Disability groups and accessible car park users have reacted angrily to plans to move a Disabled Car Park to accommodate staff at Barclays Bank during the construction of a cinema development in Brentwood.
The Conservative administration in Brentwood needs the use of Barclays' staff car park during construction works and, rather than move the staff of the multi-million pound banking corporation to another location, have done a deal to take over the disabled car park for them and move the disabled spaces to the other side of the High Street TWICE the distance from the High Street and less convenient for essential shopping needs.
The current car park is conveniently located for visiting local chemists and two supermarkets as well as being within easy reach of a pelican crossing and a covered walkway into the High Street. If the move gets planning permission, which is likely as the deal has already been struck and the planning committee has a higher number of the ruling Conservative councillors, the proposed location of disabled car parking spaces will see wheelchair users and those with mobility problems having to walk to the High Street through a narrow street (Crown Street) that struggles to accommodate pedestrians and cars safely with bollards having been knocked down by speeding motorists in the past.
In addition, the new spaces are not going to offer the safety of a purpose built car park with wide spaces - that will now be enjoyed by Barclays' staff.
What's more worrying is that Brentwood Council tweeted the fact that the move will happen before any consultation has taken place with local residents or disability groups or the matter has been debated at Planning Committee - as is required when councils make applications on their own land. The information tweeted is also incorrect as it is double the distance!
Brentwood North ward councillor James Sapwell said:
"This is a classic example of the Tory council disregarding views by firing first and then embarking on a consultation later, as we have come to expect. The council has not followed its own procedures by conducting a full disability impact assessment and has found itself in a total mess here with vulnerable residents very concerned about the situation.
"Why do we have to relocate our disabled residents' car parking anyway? It seems a much more logical solution to move Barclays staff car park without causing such upheaval. It seems Brentwood Council is putting Barclays' demands above the needs of our disabled residents and this is unfair and unnecessary.
The Liberal Democrat group has asked for a full disability impact assessment and consideration to be given to the logistics of each route for a disabled person to be examined.
Cllr Sapwell continued:
"It would just make more sense if the Conservative administration and Barclays Bank reconsidered their plans and put the needs of disabled and vulnerable residents first."