Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw made this contribution to the Disabled Persons Parking Spaces Bill on Thursday. It's an interesting angle on the subject:
“I would like to address a matter which concerned me for much of my career within the Scottish retail motor industry.
It concerns not so much the securing of dedicated parking places themselves as the eligibility of those who are entitled to use them via the UK Motability Car purchase scheme.
“It was determined that rather than create a specific replacement vehicle to the Reliant Robin, general discounts would apply with VAT being waived in addition on whatever range of motor vehicles manufacturers wished to make available on the scheme.
“Demand exploded as those who discovered they were eligible for the benefit, but who had not fancied a Reliant Robin, realised that the benefit could be applied to any make or model of vehicle subject to the manufacturer making it available under the scheme.
At one point in the 1990s there were more people registered on the UK Motability disabled driver scheme than there were registered disabled people in all of the other countries within the European Union put together.
Moreover fewer than 2% of the vehicles supplied were adapted in any way whatsoever. “I regret to say that in some instances I was aware of deliberate abuse and the frankly ridiculous. The customer who was eligible for the benefit because he was diagnosed as ‘clinically bald’. Or the man who freely admitted to my salesman that he was driven from Glasgow to Ayr on a cold day with his leg stuck out the window, before a doctor confirmed poor circulation entitling him to the benefit.
“I should also like to contrast this to the monstrous injustice which has, in contrast, been meted out to those in need of an appropriate wheelchair. Relatively pathetic amounts of public money are spent on wheelchair users and I point to the contrast between this and the huge public subsidy on motor vehicles.
“This is not to take away from the incredibly liberating lifeline those who rightly enjoy vehicles under the scheme enjoy, or to detract from the screaming frustration they feel when trying to park and finding their spaces selfishly blocked by others too lazy to park elsewhere.”