‘No disabled parking’ row

Disabled motorist Shirley Williams is campaigning against what she says is a lack of disabled parking spaces in Sunderland city centre.

Disabled motorist Shirley Williams is campaigning against what she says is a lack of disabled parking spaces in Sunderland city centre.

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DISABLED drivers are being forced out of Sunderland city centre, a campaigner claimed today.

Shirley Williams said she had been lobbying parking chiefs at Sunderland City Council for the last year, over the lack of disabled parking bays in the city centre.

Now the 64-year-old is preparing to argue her case, ahead of a meeting with parking bosses.

Mrs Williams, who was struck with polio at just 15 months old, said: “The lack of parking spaces means a lot of disabled people are unable to come into the city centre.

“We are valuable customers spending money in the city too.

“Why should we have to go all the way to the MetroCentre or Newcastle to do our shopping? It’s not fair.”

Mrs Williams claims the council has removed disabled bays from along John Street, St Thomas Street, Norfolk Street and various other roads in the area.

The council says it is introducing six new parking bays on John Street to redress the balance.

However, Mrs Williams said even then, the city’s disabled bays will be fewer than before.

“It seems like disabled people are being frozen out of the city,” she said.

“We are the people who need direct access to shops and need parking spaces near to The Bridges and places like that.”

In March, Mrs Williams met council bosses to air her concerns.

It was agreed that the council would launch a consultation with Wearsiders over disabled parking bays.

She said: “I know there must be many people out there who have had problems with the lack of disabled parking spaces in the city and I would like to hear from them.

“The more people we have, the stronger our case will be.”

James Newell, interim head of traffic management, road safety and parking services at the council, said: “Sunderland City Council is working with the Disability Independent Advisory Group, which represents the interests of disabled people, to carry out a consultation on city centre disabled parking provision.

“We welcome views from anyone as part of this process.”

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