Disabled campaigners are set to carry out a national survey of supermarket carparks, as part of efforts to stamp out the misuse of accessible parking bays.
Members of the Baywatch campaign – the disabled motorists’ charity Mobilise, Disability Now magazine and the British Polio Fellowship – have been calling on supermarkets to deal with the problem since 2001.
This summer, Sainsbury’s became the second of the “big four” supermarket chains to introduce widespread fining for bay abusers, following the lead of Asda in January 2008.
Tesco uses fining “as a last resort” in some stores, but Morrisons has so far refused to introduce fining.
A small survey by Disability Now in April 2008 suggested that abuse dropped from 23 per cent to about three per cent in Asda’s carparks after the fines were introduced.
Helen Smith, director of policy and campaigns for Mobilise, said she hoped the new survey would prove that fining those who use accessible bays without a blue badge was effective.
She said: “For the first time since the survey has been carried out, some supermarkets have been fining. Hopefully the survey will show what we always said: fining works.”
She said she visited her local Sainsbury’s in Norwich, which has now begun fining abusers, and there were plenty of accessible bays free and none of the bays were being used by vehicles without blue badges.
Previously, she said, it was rare for her to find a free accessible space because of widespread misuse.
The survey will start on Monday 21 September, with volunteers asked to check out supermarket provision, preferably at a busy time, over the following eight days.
They will be asked to note the number of accessible bays, how many cars are parked in them, and the number of those cars that are not displaying blue badges.
The first Baywatch survey in 2002 revealed that about one in four bays was misused.
The last survey, carried out in 2007 before any widespread use of fines, found more than one in five bays was still being used by a car without a blue badge, and in more than a third of carparks there were no accessible bays free for disabled shoppers because of abuse.
The proportion of bays being misused has not dropped below 18 per cent in any of the five surveys.
To take part in the Baywatch survey, visit www.baywatchcampaign.org
7 September 2009