A common problem for many disabled motorists is not being able to park at their desired destination. The major complaint is that the disabled bays are all occupied with cars not displaying a Blue Badge. Last year DMUK changed the format of the parking survey so that participants could fill it in at home. This allowed the charity to also expand the scope of the survey to gauge your opinions of other aspects of parking and the Blue Badge Scheme.
Last year saw record numbers of participants and the data collected was extremely useful in not just tackling the supermarkets, but also the problems in the wider parking industry. It is for that reason that the charity has decided to permanently change the format of the Baywatch Campaign. We will no longer ask you to go to the supermarket and count vehicles not displaying a Blue Badge which are parked in disabled bays. You will be asked to think back about your parking experiences over the last 12 months and answer a series of questions.
When the survey closes the results are calculated and published. The charity presents this data to the parking industry and encourages it to take the parking problems of disabled motorists more seriously and manage their parking provision correctly. The Baywatch campaign also aims to change public attitudes by bringing to the attention of disabled bay abusers the impact that their actions can have.
The Baywatch campaign was first launched in 2002 and over the years we’ve seen small improvements in the levels of disabled parking abuse. The eligibility criteria for the Blue Badge has changed and we are seeing increased numbers of Blue Badge holders and therefore an increase in demand for Blue Badge parking. It is now more important than ever that Blue Badge bays are enforced to make sure that only genuine Blue Badge holders are parking in disabled bays. If the parking industry does not act now we could see far more incidents born from the frustration Blue Badge holders have because disabled bays are not properly enforced.
One of the most alarming statistics that came from the 2020 campaign was that 95.6% of participants did not think that local authorities were doing enough to tackle Blue Badge abuse. This is a very high percentage, but not at all surprising to DMUK. Every year the ‘Blue Badge Statistics’ are released and every year the number of local authorities actually prosecuting Blue Badge fraud is disappointingly low. The Baywatch Campaign also showed that only 20.8% of Blue Badge holders had ever been asked to have their Blue Badge inspected by an official and that 96.4% of participants supported more inspections of Blue Badges.
The results showed that in supermarket car parks 53.4% of participants either find it ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’ to find suitable disabled parking. Also 86.8% found that disabled parking bays were either ‘Often’ or ‘Very Often’ abused.
Looking specifically at enforcement DMUK asked the question: When parking at the supermarket do you ever see signs of enforcement? In response to this 55.1% of respondents said No. The next question asked was: If you have reported disabled parking abuse to a member of staff do they take action? 86.7% of respondents answered ‘No’ to this question. This is distressing and shows that when a disabled customer asks for help their concerns are ignored by supermarket staff.
The survey also asked participants about parking on their everyday journeys, not just at the supermarkets. On these types of journeys 74.8% of respondents said that finding suitable disabled parking was either ‘Difficult’ or ‘Very Difficult’. Also, generally when parking 87.7% of respondents said that they ‘Often’ or ‘Very often’ saw disabled bays being abused.
These statistics are appalling. Being able to drive and park at their desired destination is imperative to the independence of disabled people. The figures show that disabled people are being disadvantaged and prevented from living independent lives because of the state of the nation’s disabled parking provision and enforcement.
The only way to keep the pressure on the parking industry is to run the DMUK Baywatch Campaign annually and this year it takes place in August 2021 and we will publish full details of how to take part in August. You’ll also be able to participate online by visiting the DMUK website www.disabledmotoring.org.
We hope to make this year bigger and better than ever before and have a number of organisations supporting Baywatch 2021.
The campaign has support from Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, she commented:
“It’s so sad that Disabled Motoring UK has to run its Baywatch Campaign. Disabled bay enforcement should be an imperative, especially for the major supermarkets that can afford to invest in policing their car parks. I see disabled parking abuse regularly, There is a real lack of understanding about how essential these bays are to disabled people and I applaud DMUK’s Baywatch Campaign as it plays a vital role in highlighting the issue of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets.
Graham Footer, Chief Executive, at DMUK, said:
“Baywatch is one of the charity’s longest running campaigns and is really important to draw attention to the parking problems that disabled people face when just trying to go about their daily lives. It is now an annual campaign for the charity and we hope this will allow us to gather momentum and keep the pressure on the supermarkets and other car park owners to do more to support their disabled customers. It’s fantastic that the campaign has support from Baroness Grey-Thompson again this year. This campaign relies on public participation and we hope her support will encourage others to get involved.”
DMUK Baywatch is also supported by:
We’d like to get as many organisations involved as possible to spread awareness of the campaign. There is still time to get involved and we welcome all support with this vital campaign.