The question of the location of disabled parking bays reared its head again recently when a woman found six such spaces blocked off on Charlotte Street on a busy Saturday morning.
Ruth Fitzmaurice, from Killinick, said she had parked in one of the disabled bays (the closest one to the quay) on Saturday week last and proceeded to run her errands in the town. When she returned, the street was closed off to traffic as a nubmer of tables and chairs were lined out for outdoor eating.
Ms Fitzmaurice has spina bifida and has, as she says herself, 'good days and bad days' when it comes to walking long distances. She holds a permit to park in disabled spaces and said she had never had any issue parking on Charlotte Street before.
'Disabled spaces are already scarce in Wexford. To have them closed so that people can eat outside on a nice day is absurd. Those of us that need the spaces need to be close to amenities.'
Ms Fitzmaurice contacted Wexford Borough District Manager Angie Laffan who explained, in an email, that, for many years, a licence had been granted for the closure of Charlotte Street on weekends during the summer months, primarily for the purpose of outdoor entertainment.
She pointed out that the road closure was advertised in the local press each year to give the public the chance to make submissions but she said that no submissions were received for 2018.
She acknowledged that none of the six spaces were accessible while Charlotte Street and Monck Street were closed, saying it was something the council intended to review in relation to disabled parking. She added that the six spaces on Charlotte Street were, to her knowledge, not widely used and were often occuppied by illegally parked vehicles.
She added that the council had been discussing the topic of accessible disabled spaces with the County Council Access Officer in recent months.
Head of Communications at Wexford County Council, David Minogue said they acknowledged that this situation had presented difficulties for people and said they would seek alternative arrangements to ensure that people were not inconvenienced.
He remarked that the concentration of disabled spaces in that area was intended because it was a central area but said that they would work to find a solution to the issue of their unavailability at certain times.