Disabled face arduous trek as Brentwood bank gets their car park
ELDERLY people now have to push their frail parents hundreds of metres further to reach Brentwood's High Street shops because Barclays Bank needs the disabled car park closest to the town centre.
Barbara White faces wheeling her 89-year-old father up the High Street from the Westbury Road car park or Chatham Way, rather than enjoying the convenience of parking in William Hunter Way.
In contrast, Barclays staff and customers, who currently park behind the High Street branch, will only have to walk a few metres when the disabled bays in William Hunter Way become the bank's property.
However, a spokesman for the bank said that it would work to find an amicable solution.
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The exchange of the 24 disabled parking spaces for the car park currently owned by Barclays is a vital component of Brentwood Borough Council's planned William Hunter Way development, which cannot go ahead without the agreement.
The authority says that following the sale of the disabled car park, there will be a need for disabled parking elsewhere.
But residents like Mrs White have questioned how "convenient and accessible" the 15 spaces in Chatham Way and 13 in Westbury Road will actually be.
The 64-year-old takes her father Ted Tooke out shopping in his wheelchair about once a week.
She said: "Both car parks are a lot further away from the High Street than the William Hunter Way car park and both are on a slight incline."
The temporary measure will be in place during construction of the William Hunter Way development, which will eventually provide several disabled parking bays on a permanent basis.
However, there is still no word on when work is going to start.
Mrs White added: "I frequently use the William Hunter Way disabled car park when taking my parents into town.
"It is the most convenient and the spaces in the Chatham Way and Westbury Road car parks are not a satisfactory temporary location until the new multi-storey car park is built, particularly as I am the one who has to push dad in his wheelchair."
Lib Dem Ross Carter, councillor for Brentwood North, said: "We have had no discussion about this proposal at all.
"We have just been faced with a blank wall of silence.
"Why can't Barclay's staff move on a temporary basis to another car park and be provided with parking permits for the duration of the build?"
Sue Higgins, chairman of Brentwood Access Group, which campaigns for the rights of disabled people in the town, said: "Why should we have to move down to Westbury Road? It's absolutely useless for us. It's far too faraway. It's a stupid decision.
"The ground storey of the multi-storey would be much better. No one has spoken to us about this. There has been no sort of consultation.
"No one has asked for our opinion at all. The council has just gone ahead and done it."
A council spokesman said: "When these disabled car park spaces in William Hunter Way end, there will be a need to provide temporary replacement disabled parking facilities within the centre of Brentwood that are both convenient and accessible.
"We considered a number of locations for the replacement disabled parking and will be making 15 full-size disabled parking spaces available within the Chatham Way car park (at least as close to the High Street as William Hunter Way), plus a further 13 full-size disabled parking spaces within the Westbury Road car park.
"The availability of these spaces will be from when current provision in William Hunter Way ends until the completion of the multi-storey car park provided as part of the William Hunter Way development.
"Then this new multi-storey car park here will provide an adequate number of disabled parking spaces for the town centre and on a permanent basis."
A Barclays spokesman said: "There are people who really need those spaces and we will take into account.
"Barclays will consider these people and we will work to find a resolution that is amicable for everyone."