Councillor Resigns After ‘Too Many Disabled Bays’ Comment

Edit – reviewing this story some time later – it turns out that the Councilor is back in post.

The ever-wonderful Same Difference has this story: Bournemouth Councillor Susan Phillips Resigns From Role After ‘Too Many Disabled Bays’ Comment.

I’m going to produce the counter-argument, because I think it’s important that the reflex isn’t the same thing as the action:

The nub of the thing:

In the recorded telephone call she had with an operator with Devere Parking Serices, she
said: ‘I actually feel when you have 12 bays all empty for disabled, and I drove around for three quarters of an hour trying to park and couldn’t, I find that people who are disabled basically, they aren’t going to walk around and I think they have far too many disabled parking bays.’

Mrs Phillips stuck to her views and later said: ‘I would say disabled people who drive perhaps don’t frequent the likes of Castlepoint because it’s so far to walk everywhere.

‘There were 10 or 12 disabled spaces free and I was driving around and around but I know that doesn’t make it OK.

‘I was against the clock that day. You do the crime and you pay the bill and I should not have parked there.

‘I was very upset about what I’d done, I’ve never parked in a disabled space before.’

There are several things here: firstly, I think that if I was talking to a service that, among other things, was going to take my credit card number off me. I think I would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. I don’t recall ever haven’t had a parking fine but certainly I imagine that the nobody is at their best on such phone calls.  Personally I think that the issue of selling off recordings to the local paper is the biggest one here.

Secondly if it is the case that there are no spaces for not-yet-disabled drivers, and a dozen for blue badges, and *if* this happens on a regular basis, then maybe it would be worth looking into that.   I don’t believe that the vast majority of blue badge holders want under subscription, if only because the resources used there might have been better spent improving access somewhere else…

So:

Does she sound a little ranty on the phone?  Yes.

Is it a fairly badly put point? Yes

Was she speaking in her capacity as a councilor? No.

Has she been done over, good and proper, by someone who is responsible for presumably thousands of private recordings and personal information? Yes.

Even if she was, would it have been that bad? Middling… certainly would have been a silly thing to say. But, by the standards of local councilors, it’s a shining example of good taste.

I think there are major and genuine issues in disability and I think there are a some truly awful people pushing nasty ideas around. I don’t think Susan Phillips is one of them, and I think at best this is a distraction from sorting out real issues and at worst this is a symptom of a Daily Mail approach to life.

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