Council proposed to charge blue badge holders to use surface car parks, but not for now!!!!

A fantastic result folks!!!! Our new Council has decided NOT to charge disabled people to park on surface car parks. Many thanks to everyone who signed the petition and supported us in this endeavour.

The petition got enough votes for STAND to address a full Council Meeting on this issue. We can only hope that they reconsider. We have had an assurance that STAND will be consulted before these proposals are implemented.

 

The Council are trying to raise £30 000 per year by charging disabled people to park. Members of STAND are very concerned about this proposal. Please sign our e petition here  Epetition  The petition went live on Friday 13th March and by Saturday night we had 120 signatures. Please ask everyone you know to sign this petition. We want to ask the council to think again.

April 15th and we now have 260 signatures asking the council to think again and 10 against. Please ask everyone you know to sign the petition as we would like the Council to know the strength of feeling about this issue.

We do not believe that they will raise that amount of money because disabled people will either park on yellow lines or go elsewhere. Few will pay to park so the council will not raise the money, in fact it will cost them as they will have to pay to make the car parks disabled friendly. All the parking meters will have to be accessible and many will have to be re sited. The pay and display method of parking will have to be changed to one that does not force disabled people to walk further than they are able. The no win no fee lawyers are available to take on disability discrimination cases free of charge, so unless all of this work is done prior to charging some one could bring a legal challenge, which again would cost the Council to defend and even more should they lose. Members also believe that the council  would  be discriminating against disabled people because abled bodied pensioners have their travel cost subsided whereas many disabled people cannot use the buses and so cannot benefit from this subsidy. Disabled people pay their poll tax but cannot access many of the council run services.

Please let us know what you think.

It is apparent from emails received that people with disabilities who work in town centres are going to be severely affected by the Council’s decision. The vast majority of car parks within travelling distance for a blue badge holder are short term, which means that disabled people who can park there now will be prevented from doing so when this measure comes into operation. DISABLED PEOPLE FORCED OUT OF THEIR JOBS or they can put themselves in great pain and distress by attempting to walk further than they can manage. This from a Council that it’s citizens told them to protect vulnerable people.

http://webapps.stoke.gov.uk/uploadedfiles/Budget-proposals_Final-2014-V5.0-compressed-secured.pdf  page 12.

http://webapps.stoke.gov.uk/uploadedfiles/Budget-final-proposal-presentation-4-Feb.pdf

STAND have received no reply from their request for a costing on how much it will COST  council to make the car parks and method of payment disabled friendly.

Many thanks to the people who filled in the Councils’ consultation forms. These will form the basis of serious discussions about how the issues raise can be resolved.

New Government Advice on Hospital Parking Charges

On Saturday 23rd Aug 2014 BBC news announced that the Government was to issue new advice to hospitals about parking charges, including the news that disabled people should be given concessions or free parking,. See the full article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28905695

See the Government advice here Government Guidance on Hospital Parking Charges

See the comments by the Sentinel 5th Sept. 14     http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Legal-action-taken-disabled-parking-spaces/story-22879998-detail/story.html

At a meeting at the hospital on 5th December 2014 Nan Sharp and Mike Brown delivered a report “Department of Health Guidance on Car parking Issued 23.8.14- Implications and recommendations for UHNM” where they outlined what the hospital needs to do in order to meet these guidelines. With effect from Jan 1st 2015 blue badge holders will have 1 hour added to the time they have paid for and the hospital will ensure that Pay on Exit capabilities are built into the design brief for the additional car parking investments 2015/2016

Patients Association Sept 14

Hospital Parking Charges
Hospital parking charges and fines continue to frustrate patients across England. Many patient groups and individuals up and down the country have called for trusts to either scrap charges or place a cap on them. The Patients Association continues to hear from patients who are angry about the current situation, which many feel is an unfair tax on the sick.
 
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said,
 
“We have been concerned about hospital car parking charges and fines for many years. We receive many calls to our Helpline from patients who are outraged that hospitals are using this as an opportunity to bring in funds.

Going to hospital can be stressful and patients do not need further stress by having to worry about the cost of parking or about any fines that they may incur. Many hospital appointments frequently over-run, particularly those involving specialist treatments such as chemotherapy. It is not fair that these patients should be worried about rushing back to their cars to top-up the meter in such a situation.


Hospitals should be properly supported by the Government without having to rely on charging and fining patients and visitors to make ends meet. Car parking charges make a mockery of a service supposedly free at the point of need and we urge the Department of Health to scrap this policy, and end this charge on being sick.”

Drugs Shortage

 

At our AGM members complained that when they went to collect their medicines from the pharmacies there were often items missing as the pharmacy had not got them in stock causing great problems for some disabled people as they needed to get a taxi to collect their medication.

STAND emailed Andrew Pickard Pharmacy Advisor|Staffordshire and Shropshire Area Team|NHS England and he has offered to come to our meeting to talk about this problem.

The Patients Association had this article in their latest newsletter:

Patients being “harmed” by drug shortages 
One in three GPs have said that their patients have suffered as a result of shortages of common prescription drugs. A poll of GPs has revealed that more than nine in 10 family doctors have been forced to write prescriptions for “second choice” medicines because the drug they wished to provide was out of stock.

In recent years, scores of medicines, including those for breast cancer, arthritis and schizophrenia have run low because drugs intended for British use are being diverted abroad for profit, while others have been subject to production problems.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said,
 
“We are deeply concerned to learn that patients are still being denied access to key medicines. This crisis began several years ago and it would appear that it has still not been resolved. Patient safety is being compromised and we would like to know what the government is doing to address it.” 
 
“Having access to the medicines prescribed by their doctor is a basic right that all patients should be able to expect. It is appalling that in 21st century Britain, patients are unable to receive even this most basic of services. This is not only dangerous for patients, but also inconvenient for overworked doctors who are frantically trying to find alternatives for their patients.”

I will let members know when Andrew will be coming to discuss this with us as soon as arrangements have been made. Andrew has provisionally booked to come to our meeting on 2nd Dec 2014. This will be confirmed closer to the date.

Andrew gave a brilliant talk with advice for members about what they can do to ensure they get their medications on time.
 

UHNS has refused to stop charging for disabled parking

University Hospital of North Staffordshire UHNS p2UHNS p3 UHNSp4 UHNSp5 UHNS p6

Tristram Hunt and Paul Farrelly MP wrote to Mark Hackett, Chief executive of UHNS asking him to stop charging disabled people to park until they could install a disabled friendly parking system that does not require disabled people to increase their travelling distance in order to pay. Mark Hackett refused basically saying that the trust could not afford to do this as they needed to ensure that the “car parking service is not subsidised in any way from funds that would otherwise be intended for the provision of direct patient care”. He did say that  they were actively looking at other solutions such as pre booking and Number Plate recognition. See the full reply by clicking on the link above.

Tontine Street, Hanley – Kerb Edges

STAND raised the issue of people tripping up in Tontine Street because there was little visual difference between the road and the kerb after the new paving had been completed.

Result

At the STAND meeting on 28th Jan 2014 the Council have agreed with us and they said that they will put metal studs along the pavement edge to rectify this problem. We will let you know when this has been done. Meanwhile take great care in Tontine Street.

17.3.14

Pam 
 
I have been asked to provide an update regarding the new paving in Tontine Street / Percy Street.
The design for the scheme was undertaken with the aim of accommodating the needs of a wide variety of users as required by legislation covering new schemes proposals. Considerable research into design guidance from Department for Transport, Guide Dogs UK and other sources was carried out as well as consultation involving disability groups and visits to similar schemes in other cities to inform the layout and choice of materials. The installation of the 60mm kerb face wherever possible was something blind and partially sighted users are particularly keen on being provided and a dark granite was used at the kerb line to provide a contrast between the footways and the carriageway. Although the kerb and adjacent channel are the same material there is a visible difference between the two with a contrast in the units sizes used.
Independent road safety audits carried out at both design stage and following completion have not raised any issues with the design and choice of materials however we have been made aware of similar concerns and trip incidents by a number of people. As a result work started last week on the installation of hazard markings along the kerb edge using stainless steel discs inlaid into the granite kerb. We shall continue to monitor the situation following the installation of the markers.
Regards
Andy
 
Andy Norman | Senior Engineer
Highway & Structural Engineering | City Renewal | Place Management | Roads and Engineering
City of Stoke-on-Trent
Reception 2, Highways & Transportation, Regent Centre, Regent Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3EG
t. 01782 232165

UHNS disabled parking Pay and Display Issues

Disabled parking problems have been a long standing issue with UHNS. Back in Sept 2012 the secretary of STAND gave this letter to Julia Bridgewater, the Chief Executive of UHNS.

Dear Julia Bridgewater,

I have asked questions about disabled parking at UHNS AGMs over the last 4 years as I realised that disabled people are missing appointments because they have been unable to find an appropriate parking spot.

Mike Brerton said he would look into this at the first AGM. I heard nothing more. Andrea Green said she would look at it and Mike Dixon arranged a meeting with her where I saw that on the plans it was obvious that there would be a problem. She said she would arrange a meeting for us to meet the planners. That was the last I heard about that. At the AGM last year when I raised the issue again Gavin said he would get back to me. He arranged for Elaine Andrews to come to see me to discuss the matter. I explained the problem and she said there would be a covered walkway with seats and wheelchairs. I said that this would not be a solution as some disabled people would be sitting in the cold for up to an hour before they could even get to the door.(Assuming 2 stops of half an hour every 50 metres) She said she would take up this issue and get back to me. I had to contact her and nothing had changed.

There is still an unresolved problem about disabled parking at the UHNS in that the nearest parking spot is too far away for disabled people to walk. i.e. It is more than 50 metres from the door. As I am sure you are aware, if someone can walk more than 50 metres then in the vast majority of cases they do not qualify for a blue badge, therefore although I acknowledge you have provided more disabled bays at the new hospital, these bays are not fit for purpose in that the majority of disabled people will struggle to use them.

Stoke-on-Trent Area Network for Disability have now taken up this issue as it means that the majority of disabled people will be unable to access the very service that they need for their health and well being and they would like to know how this is going to be resolved?

From then STAND has had conversations and contacts with various representative from UHNS about the inadequate positioning of the Blue Badge bays and then in Nov 2013 the hospital imposed parking charges on disabled people for the first time. We were already concerned that disabled people were disadvantaged by having to travel further than was safe for their health and the pay and display method chosen by the hospital meant that this distance was increased as they then had to travel back and forth to the pay and display machine before starting the journey that was already too far.

Result

Promises that the following will be investigated:

that there will be Blue Badge Bays adjacent to the main entrance when the ambulances have been relocated.

that there will be additional Blue Badge Bays outside West Building when the area is relined.

that the layout of the main disabled car park will be looked at to see if it can be improved.

Said To Be In Place:

Volunteers available to help disabled people on the car parks.

Outstanding issues

STAND members are reporting that they have not seen any volunteers to help. It is obvious that there are not enough volunteers to staff a reliable service.

The distance disabled people have to travel is much too far and is putting extra strain on their health.

Machines are out of order on occasions.

Machines are too far away for disabled people to walk outside A&E.

An extra machine has now been put in place outside A&E.

Members in wheelchairs cannot get to the machines because of cars parked over the dropped kerb.

No large signs to say it is a pay and display. I am told that this will be sorted by the end of Feb14.

This has now been sorted out.

Signs on the machine far too small to read, especially in dim light.

If disabled people are to be charged for parking then the system used must not put disabled people at a disadvantage by forcing them to travel extra distance to and from the pay machines.

Appeal for help

All members are asked to write or email their MPs to highlight these issues. See MPs page

Legal Action

A member has started legal action for discrimination against UHNS as there does not appear to be any positive action toward obtaining a disability friendly pay system and disabled people are suffering.

Government Action

In Aug 2014 the Government issued guidance to hospitals asking for free or concessionary parking for disabled people and a pay on exit parking system.Government Guidance on Hospital Parking Charges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

date 2

 

Blue Badge Abuse

Members brought up the problems caused by selfish people abusing blue badges. Able bodied people were using Blue badges to park when they go to work, when they go shopping etc. The abuse is causing real problems for genuine Blue Badge holders as they are unable to get a parking space.

Result

At our meeting on 28th Jan 2014 it was decided that the Council would be asked to look into this problem with a view to finding ways to prevent this abuse.

Councillor Terry Crowe helped to set up a meeting with the Council representatives responsible for this issue and STAND members to discuss this matter. The meeting is on 25th Feb 14 so any comments on this issue please email info@stand-stoke.org.uk

Sept 14

Denise Whalley of Grosvenor Ave, Oakhill had been fraudulently using her mother’s badge to obtain free parking near her place of work in Newcastle between 1 April and 1 Oct 2013.
She pleaded guilty at Stafford Magistrates court and will now have a criminal record and has been ordered to pay a fine of £160, a £780 compensation order, £360 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
 
 
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for planning, regeneration and transportation, said: “Whalley fraudulently used her mother’s blue badge for a six-month period. We will not tolerate this kind of crime and will take action wherever possible. In this instance, the blue badge was issued in the city, but the offence occurred in Newcastle. The prosecution is an excellent example of partnership working between the two authorities.
 
“The city council has issued 13,000 blue badges. This is our second successful prosecution, and it is likely that other badges are being used unlawfully. This fraud costs councils nationally around £46m a year, but it is not just the financial cost that is the issue. By using a disabled space unlawfully, a disabled person with a genuine need has been denied that space. As a council, we take seriously our duty to the genuine blue badge users to ensure that the scheme is used correctly.
 
“We have a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to all fraud and will take action against offenders.”
 
 

 

Obstructions on the pavements and Transport Lane

Member Phil Mountford asked STAND to look at the problems caused by obstructions on the pavements. Wheelchair users were being forced into the road as the pavements were blocked by vehicles. When he complained to the Council they said it was a police matter and when he complained to the police they said it was a Council matter.

Result

We asked Steve Buckton from the Council to attend our our meeting on 28th Jan 2014. He told us:

Roads subject to a traffic order are subject to council Civil Enforcement Officers and can be issued with a PCN (ticket). If someone has parked where there are no parking restrictions ie. the pavement, the council cannot do anything about this, which means that it should be reported to the police. Members are recommended to take photographs of the offending vehicle  with the number plate and report the matter to the police. If the problem persists we will invite the Police and Crime Commissioner to a future meeting to discuss the matter.

Following our meeting on 1st April we have invited Matthew Ellis The Police and Crime Commissioner to our meeting on 5th August. Mike Clark from the Council will also be at this meeting so we should be able to establish who is responsible and what can be done about it.

Rob Flello MP sent someone from his office to attend this meeting and he has also written to Staffordshire Police about this matter.

18.4.14

Apparently there is some progress with this issue (see below) and Matthew Ellis will not be coming to our August meeting.

From: PCC@staffordshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk
> Subject: STAND
> Pam
>
> My apologies for not coming back to you about the meeting on the 5 August,
> I have discussed your email in great detail and your request for Mr Ellis
> to attend one of your meetings, what he has requested is that at present he
> has instigated a review into repatriating Powers to PCSO’s that will
> hopefully address the issues that you raise so that it would be within
> their remit to deal with the problems members of your group are having,
> until such time a decision has been made whilst Mr Ellis can sympathise
> with the problems being experienced he is unable to add anything until the
> review is complete. So with this in mind he has asked for me to send his
> apologies for the 5 August initially whilst the review is taking place,
> once a decision has been made and a more definitive answer can be given to
> you and your group I would hope to contact you and arrange for Mr Ellis to
> meet with you at this time.
>
> Kind regards
>
> Veronica Powell

25th April 2014

Rob Flello’s letter from the police inspector Amanda Davies says that they have carried out an operation in Longton and will be contacting STAND to work with them.

11.7.14

Still no word from Amanda Davies or Matthew Ellis.

4.8.14

Kayleigh Dawson PCSO from Longton Police rang to give an update on the problems in Transport Lane.

“Staffordshire Police have been working very closely with Taxi Licensing,
 and Parking Enforcement to alleviate this issue. A number of tactics have
 been explored to date including: Multi agency meetings, Joint enforcement
 days, High visibility patrols, and raising awareness throughout the local
 community.
 
 Recently I held a meeting with Highways, Enforcement and Taxi Licensing to
 discuss a possible long term approach to combat the parking issues on
 Longton Town. At present we are working together on a proposed long term
 solution. I am unable to provide further detailed information at this
 present time. However, I will update accordingly once a decision has been
 reached.”

18 11 14

At last we have had confirmation that the review is almost complete. See letter sent to Rob Flello MP Matthew Ellis