A DISABLED pensioner has hit out over a lack of disabled parking bays in Sunderland city centre.
Jane Simpson, 72, from Grangetown, says she no longer goes into the city centre after receiving two parking tickets.
The widow, who suffers from severe arthritis, used to park in disabled bays off St Thomas Street. But these have now been removed and she was recently given a ticket for parking there.
Her son Timothy, 43, also received a ticket in Nile Street carpark. He did not think he needed to buy a ticket, as he was waiting to pick his mum up and the car was displaying her disabled badge.
But he claims the traffic warden told him his mum must be with the car.
Mrs Simpson, who cared for her disabled husband for 30 years, said: “I’ve never had a ticket in my life and I’ve been driving since I was 19.
“I can walk from Joplings to the bank in Fawcett Street, but I can’t remember the last time I walked round the city.
“I would like to see more disabled parking bays, as the council has took them all away.
“They say there are some down Burdon Road, but you have to cross the road at the bottom, then walk all the way up Fawcett Street. And if you don’t get there by 8.30am to 8.45am, then forget it.”
Now Mrs Simpson, who has been a widow for seven years, is forced to rely on her two sons for lifts in and out of the city.
She said: “I want to be independent. I don’t want to have sons driving me everywhere.
“It’s too far to walk to the bus stop from where I live and too far from Park Lane into town.
“I don’t go into town now. I send my sons to the cashpoint.
“I think this is happening to a lot of people like me and worse than me.”
Timothy added: “I think it is disgusting. I paid my mam’s parking ticket, because she is a pensioner.”
JAMES Newell, interim head of Traffic Management, Road Safety and Parking Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “The disabled bays in St Thomas Street were removed last year as part of the Sunniside Public Realm scheme that has significantly improved pedestrian access into the city centre.
“We intend to maintain the level of designated disabled provision in the city centre and work is underway to introduce six new full size bays in John Street to redress the balance.
“In addition to the existing on street designated disabled bays the council continues to provide free parking for all disabled blue badge holders in all of our pay and display car parks, and on-street bays for unlimited time.
“There is also the three-hour entitlement for blue badge holders on single and double yellow lines which have no loading restrictions and where no obstruction is being caused.
“Blue badges cannot be used to obtain free parking without the holder being present at the time of parking.
“We have just begun a process of consultation on the level and location of disabled parking provision in the city centre and are happy to receive views as part of this process.
“We welcome people to share their views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Network Management, Jack Crawford House, Commercial Road, Sunderland, SR2 8QR.”