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Mother fights parking ticket after calling new 'parklets' in Earl Street, Maidstone, 'discrimination'

A mother who received a parking ticket after she couldn't find a disabled bay says new 'parklets' in a town centre are 'discrimination'.

Julie Hollands from Catlyn Close in West Malling travelled to Maidstone with 13-year-old daughter Ellie Noakes, who has cerebral palsy, to pick up Ellie's iPad from the repair shop.

Julie Hollands and daughter Ellie
Julie Hollands and daughter Ellie

Ellie has a blue badge and is unable to walk long distances due to her condition.

The shop in Earl Street is usually accessible to them via the disabled bays outside but when she arrived, Mrs Hollands was surprised to see them decked over.

Knowing her errand would be quick, she pulled up on the double yellows.

The 49-year-old said: "The next nearest disabled bay would have been in the high street and there's no way I could park there because Ellie can't walk that far.

"I parked outside the Hazlitt Theatre, ran along to SIM3, I was only in there literally minutes but I came back and saw the ticket on the car.

The bay in Earl Street has a new 'parklet' on top of it
The bay in Earl Street has a new 'parklet' on top of it

"I just couldn't believe it.

"It's discrimination against disabled people because they're given less places to park so no-one can go into town."

Mrs Hollands tried challenging the ticket she felt was unfair with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) but, as the pavement also had yellow markers, her appeal was rejected.

Usually drivers with a blue badge can park on double yellow lines but are restricted when paths also have the tabs.

The new parklets have been introduced as part of the Active Travel Fund, a grant given to Kent County Council (KCC) by the government to encourage people to shop locally in the wake of Covid-19.

Businesses and other people with disabilities have also expressed concern saying they feel the new areas are causing a 'nightmare'.

Mrs Hollands said she will continue to challenge the ticket and hopes the new bays will eventually be removed if enough people speak out.

She added: "It's not about the money, it's about the principle which is why I'm fighting it."

An MBC spokesman said: “Mitigation presented as part of any appeal is considered by the council.

"Where an appeal is rejected, the appellant will be able to further challenge the council’s decision if they feel the full circumstances have not been considered.

"Full details on this process would have been provided to the driver in response to their appeal.”

A KCC Spokesperson said: "KCC was successful in a bid to the Department for Transport for Emergency Active Travel Funding (EATF), to deliver experimental road space reallocation schemes in order to encourage active travel and enable social distancing.

"These schemes include the pedestrianisation of Earl Street and the installation of a cycle lane along King Street, between the A249 and Wyke Manor Road.

"These measures are being delivered using Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders, which involves installing a trial version of the scheme, then undertaking a public consultation process while the trial is live in order to fine tune the scheme and form a view as to whether a permanent solution may be viable and supported."

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