Watchdog backs plan to fine disabled parking bay cheats

A NEW law to crack down on motorists who steal disabled drivers' parking bays has been backed by the UK's official equalities watchdog.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said Labour MSP Jackie Baillie's bill in the Scottish Parliament was a straightforward, practical and cost effective means of making a real difference to the lives of disabled people across Scotland.

Ms Baillie wants to make all disabled parking bays – including those in supermarket car parks – legally enforceable with fines of up to 60 for drivers who breach the ban. At the moment most disabled bays are only "courtesy" spaces and other drivers can park in them without fear of a penalty.

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In a submission to Holyrood's local government committee, which is considering the bill, the commission said the proposed new law underpinned the principle of independent living.

The commission continued: "For someone with an impairment which limits their ability to travel any distance by foot, the abuse of designated parking bays by non-disabled drivers is much more than a minor irritant. It represents a significant barrier to an individual's ability to undertake essential day-to-day activities."