Disabled boy has to be carried 100 yards into school every day – because charity chief insists on using disabled parking bay
A disabled boy has to be carried 100 yards into school — because a charity chief insists on using the disabled parking bay outside.
Keir Wallace, eight, suffers from a rare condition which can unexpectedly leave him in agony and unable to walk.
He is just one of two people in the UK who suffer from familial cold auto-inflammatory syndrome type 2 (FCAS) which causes severe pain in his joints.
But the youngster’s parents are unable to stop in the disabled parking space outside his primary school because it is regularly used by a resident of the street.
Geoff Pearson, who is the chair of homelessness charity Streetwork, claims the council used the wrong traffic regulation order (TRO) and cannot fine anyone for parking there.
He regularly uses the space at St John’s Primary in Portobello, Edinburgh, and has lodged an objection to the bay.
His move delayed the council’s plans to make parking there an offence.
As a result, dad John Wallace, 60, has to carry Keir 100 yards or further between his car and the school when his son’s condition worsens and the space is blocked.
John, 60, a mature law student from Portobello, Edinburgh, said: “My son suffers from familial cold auto-inflammatory syndrome type 2 and is one of two people in the UK with the disease – the other is his mum.
“His legs are so painful, even when you put a sheet on top of his legs, it causes him pain.
“The disease causes his auto-immune system to switch on irregularly and his body attacks itself. This leaves him in severe to excruciating pain during outbreaks.
“He misses about 50 per cent of school. However, we do everything we can to get him there.
“Outside the school there is a painted disabled parking place but it’s only advisory and so not enforceable.
“It is regularly used by Mr Pearson, who is not disabled, if he can’t park at the front of his house in the same street.
“This has happened so often that when I’m called to the school because of my son’s pain, most of the time I cannot park close by.
“I have to carry him across a main road. It’s disgraceful that a space for disabled drivers is being blocked by just one person who is in a position to help the community.”
John said he spoke to Mr Pearson, who is also the secretary of the Northfield and Willowbrae Community Council, but that the charity boss defended his decision.
John said: “I am feeling extremely angry that he is defending his decision.
“I spoke to Mr Pearson at the Community Council. I went to the Community Council meeting to ask for their support.
“I’d figured out that it was him that was doing it. He admitted it was him that did it at the meeting.”
Council officials have told the Wallaces that the objection means it will now be January before the issue is even discussed.
John has won the support of the local community council, despite Mr Pearson’s role, and they have written to the city council calling for the bay to become enforceable.
He is also being supported at the Scottish Parliament by the cross-party group for children and young people.
It is understood that local councillors and MP Tommy Sheppard have also written in support.
John said: “Now I’ve been told by the council that the whole issue won’t be resolved until January when a report goes to the transport committee.
“There’s no way disabled people should be made to wait another three months before something is done. This whole delay is down to this single objection.”
Mr Pearson has defended his decision to park in the bay and to challenge the council’s traffic order.
He said: “The council is using the wrong traffic regulation order to paint this bay – and I am making that point.
“Apparently around 20 years ago there were two disabled bays there but the markings faded over time and so they were just used by anyone.
“Then, without any warning, one disabled bay was repainted. I have asked the council who painted it and why and no one seems to know.
“My objection to it is solely based on the fact that the council is using the wrong traffic order – it is making it a ‘residential’ bay, in the same way a disabled person can apply for one outside their own home. That is not a bay where fines can be handed out.”
He added: “Yes, I do park in it, but only for short periods of time when I can’t get closer to my house as the street is generally full of teachers’ cars.”
Residential disabled bays can be applied for by individuals for outside their homes, although they are not enforceable by fines.
Public disabled bays, which can be enforced, are subject to a traffic regulation order which should be passed and publicised before the bay is painted.
According to a council source, the bay was repainted before the TRO process was complete.
But Mr Pearson’s objection now means that a report must be prepared for the transport and environment committee, delaying the enforcement measures.
Mr Pearson added: “I will withdraw my objection if the council uses the correct traffic order. Anyone could get some white paint and mark a disabled space on the road.”
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council added: “The council is currently going through the process of making the disabled parking bay enforceable.
“We hope that in the meantime people would respect any disabled drivers who need to use the space, especially at school drop-off and pick-up times.”