Parking row leaves disabled people feeling ‘second-class’

A call has been made to reinstate the disabled parking bays in Broad Street Picture: JON GUEGAN (38038742)

A ROW over whether disabled parking spaces in Broad Street should be restored has sparked calls from campaigners for the government to prioritise accessibility.

Sean Pontin, chief executive of the Island’s disability charity Enable Jersey, said that vulnerable Islanders were feeling “more second-class than ever”.

And founder of Shopmobility Jersey, Edward Trevor, who is also a member of the Disability Parking Group, has arranged a meeting in St John’s Parish Hall at 10.30am on 29 June to discuss improvements to the blue-badge scheme with Infrastructure Minister Andy Jehan.

Deputy Jehan has said that there are plans to pave over Broad Street this year.

He said: “One of our priorities is to make St Helier a nicer experience, and part of that is the public realm, so we see us using Broad Street as an area for entertainment and events, and we’re looking forward to doing something later this year.

“Like with what’s happened at Charing Cross, we’re looking to get power and water available at the other end of the street as well.”

The Disability Parking Group met Mr Jehan last month to put forward the reasons why they believe Broad Street should be re-opened to blue-badge holders.

Jackie Hilton, a former politician and member of the group, said their request had been met with “outright refusal” in the meeting.

She said: “We were also informed if the matter of Broad Street was included on the agenda of a public meeting at a future date, the minister would not attend or answer any questions related to this point.

“We are naturally very disappointed at this outcome.

“It would seem to us the government does not consider accessibility and inclusivity as much as they would like us to believe.

“The narrowing of La Motte Street outside Customer and Local Services is a prime example of their inability to consider the needs of all Islanders.

“I would like to see accessibility and inclusivity at the forefront of ministers’ minds when making decisions which affect us all in different ways.”

Deputy Jehan has written to the Bailiff to ask whether parking spaces in Vine Street currently reserved for Jurats could be made available to blue-badge holders on all days of the week.

On the meeting, he said: “We discussed a number of other potential additional sites and I am waiting for a response from the Bailiff regarding disabled parking in Vine Street.

“I explained that the Hoppa Bus is a good way for people to access key facilities in St Helier, including the Market, Library and Hospital, and this is something we are going to start promoting in the coming weeks.

“I have offered to meet with blue-badge holders to discuss what improvements might be considered, including allowed time, size of spaces, signage etc.”

Mr Pontin said that blue-badge parking was a “constant conversation”.

He added: “We have had a number of conversations with government regarding spaces in St Helier generally, as not only have the Broad Street spaces gone but a number of spaces have recently been suspended due to adjacent building works.

“We had a commitment that whenever a space was closed another would be made available but I’m not sure that is happening.

“The government are currently working hard to plot the spaces across the Island and for that to lead to an interactive map, which is a helpful development.”

However, Mr Pontin continued: “Conversations are had about inclusion and accessibility, promises are made but there is no delivery. Sadly, more and more we feel, and our clients tell us, that people living with a disability feel more second-class than ever and that’s not just about parking.”

Mr Trevor said that the 29 June meeting would be an opportunity to discuss where disabled spaces were needed, time limits, sizes and whether blue-badge holders should pay for parking, among other issues which did not include Broad Street.

He said: “The minister is quite adamant that the decision has been made not to reopen it and will not discuss it.

“Although we disagree, it is better to meet to try to agree improvements than not to meet at all.”

Broad Street was first pedestrianised in May 2020 to support social distancing.

In mid-2021, States Members agreed to extend the closure – following a proposition from St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft – and the disabled bays have not returned.

Only buses and bicycles are currently allowed to use the road.

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