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One in Five Supermarket Disabled Parking Bays Being Abused

disability car parking sign to reserved space

Supported by Baroness Grey-Thompson.

In June Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) asked the public to help with their Baywatch Campaign by surveying their local supermarket car park for disabled parking abuse. The results have now been calculated.

DMUK would like to thank everybody who participated in this year’s Baywatch Campaign. This year we had the biggest number of responses that we’ve ever seen which goes to show how important the problem of disabled parking abuse is at supermarkets. Our total number of responses was 723. We’d also like to thank all of our supporting organisations that promoted the campaign and encouraged their members/supporters to take part.

General Findings

The overall level of disabled parking abuse across all supermarkets was 16%. In 2017, when we last carried out the Baywatch Campaign it was 18.5% and therefore this year’s result do show some improvement.

Across all of the supermarkets surveyed the average number of disabled bays provided (to the nearest whole bay) is 15 bays with 3 of them being abused, meaning that roughly 1 in 5 disabled bays at supermarkets are abused by somebody parking in a disabled bay without displaying a Blue Badge.

Looking generally at enforcement signage, we can see that 60% of the supermarkets surveyed had visible signage or other evidence that enforcement took place. When you isolate these supermarkets levels of abuse remained at 16%. However, the 40% that had no visible indication of enforcement taking place the percentage of abuse increased dramatically to 36%. This shows that using enforcement does decrease the levels of disabled parking abuse.

Supermarket Specifics

We had a wide spread of different supermarkets included in this year’s Baywatch survey responses, including; Aldi, ASDA, Co-Op, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Even though this year we had an increase in responses for Aldi and Lidl which reflects the general market share growth these chains have experienced we felt it was unfair to directly compare these stores with the big four – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and ASDA because we had many more surveys returned for these chains.

Morrisons were this year’s winner with just 10% of disabled parking abuse in their car parks. We’d like to congratulate Morrisons for having the least amount of disabled parking abuse.

League Table

Supermarket 2019 level of abuse 2017 level of abuse
Morrisons 10% 11%
Sainsbury’s 15% 8%
ASDA 22% 17%
Tesco 24% 23%

All of the supermarkets that were surveyed have been contacted with the Baywatch results. We’ve encouraged them to start a dialogue with the charity so that we can help them improve their parking facilities for disabled motorists.

Enforcement

Similarly to the statistics from the 2017 campaign we can once again show that enforcement works. Where we see no visible signs of enforcement taking place the levels of abuse dramatically increase.

The table clearly highlights the effect that enforcement has on levels of abuse. Across all the supermarket chains surveyed there were car parks which had no signs of enforcement. We call on all supermarkets to rectify this and to use enforcement across all of their stores.

Blue Badge Extension

On the 30th of August the criteria for the Blue Badge will change in England and more people with hidden disabilities will be eligible for a Blue Badge. DMUK predicts that this change will see a dramatic increase in Blue Badge holders meaning that disabled parking will be more pressured. The Blue Badge scheme is largely adopted by the private parking industry so the effects of this change will be felt across the entire parking sector, including parking at supermarkets.

Supermarkets can do three things to help their disabled customers, the first is to properly enforce their disabled bays so that only genuine Blue badge holders park there. We can see from the results of the Baywatch campaign that if the supermarkets eradicate this problem they could make available up to 20% more bays for their genuine disabled customers without having to do any structural changes to their car parks.

The second thing they can do is monitor their disabled parking provision closely to understand whether or not they actually provide enough disabled bays to meet the demand of their customer base. The third is to adopt the Disabled Parking Accreditation in their car parks. This would provide consumer confidence that their car park is accessible and properly enforced, and show a real commitment to the independence of their local disabled community.

Baywatch Continued

We have contacted the supermarkets surveyed and will encourage them to do more to enforce their disabled parking bays and take up the Disabled Parking Accreditation if appropriate. Baywatch will return in 2021 and we hope to see a further decrease in the levels of disabled parking abuse in supermarkets.

In the meantime the most effective way of creating change at the supermarkets is choose wisely where you spend your money. The spending power of the disabled community is huge and according to figures obtained by ‘The Purple Pound’, supermarkets’ lose £501million every month because they aren’t accessible. If you experience problems parking at your local supermarket, you could choose to spend your money elsewhere. If you do decide to make a change because disabled parking is not enforced do write to the Chief Executive of the supermarket chain and explain why you will no longer be shopping at their store. If enough people do this it can create change.

Heidi Turner, Communications and Campaigns Director at DMUK, said: “DMUK is ecstatic with the level of support it has received for this year’s Baywatch campaign. The statistics show that one in five disabled bays is abused. Disabled parking is under immense pressure to meet the demand for it and if supermarkets enforced their disabled bays properly they can increase the volume of available disabled parking by 20%. It is time that the supermarkets take this issue seriously and support their disabled customers”

Baywatch Appeal

To help DMUK to continue campaigning on the issue of disabled parking abuse we have launched the Baywatch Appeal. This is a fundraising appeal which will help the charity raise vital funds to keep advocating the need for proper management of disabled parking bays. The charity encourages all supporters of the Baywatch campaign to donate if they are able. Please visit https://www.disabledmotoring.org/donate

DMUK Baywatch Sponsor

DMUK has worked for many years with the British Parking Association (BPA) to improve parking for disabled motorists. This year the BPA has further shown their commitment to the work of DMUK by sponsoring DMUK Baywatch 2019.

Kelvin Reynolds, BPA Director of Corporate and Public Affairs says, “We are encouraged to see some improvement in this year’s survey but almost 1 in 5 disabled bays at supermarkets continue to be abused. Parking spaces reserved for Blue Badge holders must be managed properly to ensure they are not obstructed and used only by people displaying a valid disabled Blue Badge and we encourage all those who manage parking to properly enforce their disabled bays so that only genuine Blue badge holders can park there.”

Supporting organisations

DMUK Baywatch is also supported by:

  • AccessAble
  • Whizz-Kidz
  • Phab
  • Independent Living
  • Honest John
  • Disabled Living

*Data Source wearepurple.org.uk The Purple Pound

This post was written by Disabled Motoring UK. For more information please contact: Heidi Turner, Communications & Campaigns Director at: Heidi@disabledmotoring.org or call: 01508 489449.

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