Monday, 6 October 2008

Parking in Westminster

You may remember that LM and I visited the theatre in London a while ago and that I had a pretty miserable time what with the stairs and my injury (see here if you didn’t read the original post) and that the evening was topped off with a parking fine. Apparently, you’re not allowed to park anywhere other than in designated disabled parking spaces with a blue badge in Westminster, or for 2 hours maximum in other parking spaces (not long enough for a theatre visit). The result was a £120 fine although that would have been reduced to £60 if I’d paid it within 14 days.

I didn’t pay it. Instead I wrote to Westminster City Council (although their collection offices are based in Warrington, Cheshire!) politely explaining that I didn’t know their rules differed from those elsewhere in the country and that as the three disabled bays that we’d been able to find close enough to The Lyceum had all been occupied, by not parking elsewhere I wouldn’t have the same freedom to visit the theatre as able bodied people and hinted that surely that was discrimination?

A letter has arrived back. They’ve waived the fine but have made it clear that now that I know the rules any further fines will be enforced.

The fact that I don’t have to pay is good news but I’m still concerned that disabled people are being discriminated against. We’re not all lucky enough to be able to use public transports comfortably (ok, so there’s not really such a thing as using public transport comfortably in London but you know what I mean) and as blue badges are only given to those who can’t walk more than 100 yards comfortably, it stands to reason that we can’t park too far from our intended destination. Why then not more disabled bays at least? I can't say I feel particularly welcome in Westminster.

Sharon J


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Chris said...

Hi Sharon,

There are loads of issues about blue badges aren't there! There are also other reasons why people can have a badge too. The sad thing is that it is not just Westminster with this "opt out" type situation. There is more information at

Glad you didn't have to pay this fine and hope this info can help prevent further problems in and around London especially.

Take care.


Sharon J said...

I think terminal illness is another reason why some people can get a blue badge but I'm not sure about others. The father of a friend of mine who's eldery and has great difficulty walking had a dreadful time trying to get a blue badge in London recently even though he clearly fulfilled the criteria.

I doubt very much I'll be going to London again other than to visit my parents and the blue badge system in her borough is the same as it is here. I certainly won't be going to Westminster by car again as it'll just be too much hassle finding a parking space.

Chris said...

Hi! There are also issues around young children needing complex medical equipment and their parents can have a badge now too. Also people with uppper limb problems are also now entitled and so the list goes on.... The rules are on that link I gave eg website.

Thanks for your comments on the Constitution - I have replied in support of what was said!


Sharon J said...

Hmmm... strange that children needing complex medical equipment can have one but I, as an adult, couldn't on the same grounds. I can hardly carry 30 kilos of medical supplies more than few yards whenever I go away for a week and even a night away leaves me with too much to carry (several kilos of stuff that isn't exactly what you'd describe as compact).

Jade of the Jungle said...

My other half works in transport planning for local government. You don't know how much Westminster's stance infuriates him!

Chris said...

Hi Sharon ! Agree wre the medical equipment however having worked as a paediatric nurse [ before medical retirement and my own need for very heavy equipment too!] I know the problems the parents and families of children under two who cannot have a badge on any other grounds faced. I would suspect the majority of adults with complex medical needs will qualify for a badge on the grounds of their condition rather than their equipment. The child cannot carry their own equipment and the parents have to carry the child who cannot walk /lift them into chairs etc and then deal with the equipment too. As we know its not easy whoever you are with a disablity and I was pleased for those who qualify on those grounds to now have the help they need too. Before they were a forgotten group of desperately in need of help people. In no way is this a judgement but if anybody knows can we find out why do people who have upper limb problems need a badge to help them park closer to a place or have a wider space? I have no idea. The whole system is one I cannot explain and have in many ways no intentions of trying to as I am disabled and I know that being "judged" by others who have no ideas of being younger and so ill is a tough and distressing situation.

Best wishes. Chris

Richard said...

It may be that the ones with upper limb problems have a modded car or a driver. Doesn't explain the requirement for a parking space though or a blue badge. Both my neighbours are deaf yet their (huge) car is taxed as disabled. I don't know if they have a blue badge.

Sharon J said...

@ Jade. I don't know, no. But maybe I should?

@ Chris. Having had a child with complex special needs myself, I do understand the problems surrounding parents. I just don't understand why it doesn't apply to adults too, that's all.

@ Richard. That was what I was thinking too, and it could be that they also need more space because they don't have arms to stablise themselves with when they get out of their cars.

shabby chic said...

Hi Sharon
I am glad you didnt have to pay the fine , even though I know it doesnt address the problems of parking.
I have lots of catching up to do on your blog, you are great at posting . xDom

Sharon J said...

I was very pleased with the result, Shabby. It would be nice with more disabled spaces in Westminster but I'll just stick with our local theatre and Manchester in future.

Sharon Rose said...

Hi there-Very pleased for you the fine was waived. London is now really a no go area to drive anyway, let alone park. The last time we drove into central/west end of London, it took 2.5 hours to get home and I only live on the East london/essex borders!! I don't relish the thought of taking the car near london in the forseeable future, the traffic, queues and lack of parking is a complete turn off.

Anonymous said...

Well done you for writing! Hopefully you inspired them to think about access!

Sharon J said...

@ Sharon Rose. Hi and welcome. I've never driven into central London before - when I was still healthy I didn't need to. Oddly enough, it didn't take us long to either get there or get back to East London (Stratford) as it was pretty much a clear run. Maybe we were just lucky.

@ Frugal Trenches. I doubt anything will change but at least I saved myself £60.

Douglas said...

You can use a Blue Badge in Westminster to park on meters, pay-by-phone and pay & display bays provided you pay for all but the final 60 minutes of your stay. So if you pay the minimum period you can then stay for that plus 60 minutes. Make sure you only cover up to the end of the charging period as after that it is free for everyone, but watch out as they have areas where charging does not end at, for example, 6.30pm. Many of these bays have very long time limits.

Never park on yellow lines in Westminster during their operating hours unless you are sure of the complex concessions that apply for very short period parking.

Watch out for Blue Badge bays where there is a time limit. In these you must set your time clock.

Never park in disabled bays that are for a specific numbered badge only (see signs and/or road markings)as these are for that person only and they live or work near by.

For much more on Blue Badges try Mobilise at

Richard said...

Douglas. It's unnecessarily complicated, as are all travel arrangements in London for anyone who doesn't live there. Travel in London is a complete and utter rip-off.

Sharon J said...

@ Douglas. They sent me a copy of their rules and to be honest, it's just too complicated for me to bother with. I'm bound to make a mistake and end up with yet another fine so I'll just not bother with the theatre in London again. There are other places to visit :)

@ Richard. I don't entirely agree. I think the tube in London is excellent (as long as you're not using it during rush hour) but it's still too much for me these days. Disabled people really aren't given much consideration though.

Carol said...

I think you will find it tends to be easier/harder from borough to borough. I have a friend who is HIV positive and has not displayed any symptons of full blown aids since he discovered it 19 years ago, yet, he has a blue badge and motorbility car. You know the problems I had getting a blue parking permit and the problem I am having getting one for my Mum due to Newhams insistence that she attends an assessment despite the fact they are perfectly aware that she is unable to walk any distance without getting very breathless and needs portable oxygen. In fact when I told them that she rarely goes out they questioned why she wanted one!!! I am trying to get a carers parking permit at the moment from them, that is even more frustrating, they gave me one form I filled it in then they decided to change the form so I looked at that and they still haven't included a tick box for a carers permit!!! Ahhhhh

Sharon J said...

When it comes to using the badge, Newham's the same as the rest of the country but obviously not when it comes to actually getting one. Why you've been having so much trouble is a mystery to me. Is your friend with HIV disabled in any way?

I take it the carer's permit is just so that you can park outside your parents' house?