A wheelchair user has been hit with a £1,000 fine for parking in a disabled space at her home because it’s only for visitors.
Cerys Gemma, 34, isn’t able to park in the allocated space that she was given for her Cardiff flat because there is a pillar that blocks access for her wheelchair.
So instead, she’s been using the disabled parking bay, which is accessible for her wheelchair, but has been hit with a string of parking fines as a result.
Cerys says she’s spoken to authorities about the issue, but was told by property management that the space is strictly for visitors only at the Prospect Place flats.
Cerys said: "This has plagued me for two years and I just can't go on like this.
"I'm at breaking point and I've had conversations with people, and I've said this is the end, because I can't do this anymore - something has to change.
"I'm not willing to be pushed out of my home because I'm in a wheelchair."
Cerys has been using a wheelchair since suffering serious spinal injuries in a car accident when she was just 17.
She says she is unable to get into her space because there is a pillar on one side and another car parking space close on the other side.
Cerys has now been ordered to pay the fines by the County Court - despite trying to explain the issue to property managers.
She said: "It's hard enough anyway, and I try and be as graceful and patient with people who don't have accessible buildings.
"I understand that it's hard, but I'm not being pushed out of my home because of a parking space when they've got eight accessible bays.
"Literally every day when I come down to me car I think 'here we go, is there going to be another ticket?', and it's awful".
Disability rights lawyer Chris Fry, from legal firm Scott Montcrieff & Associates, said under the Equalities Act there is an obligation to make reasonable adjustments.
He said: "The reality is that if the space allocated to her is inaccessible to her because of her disability, then they're under obligation to make a reasonable adjustment, to maybe move that space or change it to a closer spot to the front door.
"If they don't, they're in breach of the Equality Act."
He added: "There is no disadvantage to them changing their policy, and prioritising, in fact legally, prioritising disabled people above other people is legal.
"It is within their gift to cancel those fines, that should be the first step they should take in terms of trying to rebuild the relationship."
New Generation Parking Management, which manages the bays for the Prospect Place, said the rules were agreed when they were asked to manage the site.
It said: "We want to make clear, if we allow one resident to utilise a disabled visitor space as their own, we would need to allow all requests from residents, which we have received over the years.
"This would no doubt reduce the availability of disabled spaces for disabled visitors.
"We cannot make changes to these rules unless agreed by the board of directors, therefore in light of the continued distress that this is causing Ms Gemma we will take steps to ensure this is discussed at the next board meeting."
A Ringley Group spokesman said New Generation Parking Limited was appointed by its client Prospect Place Management and has taken Cerys to county court for parking fines, not Ringley.
The spokesperson said: "The parking control company New Generation Parking Limited (NGP) is appointed by our client Prospect Place Management (Cardiff) Limited. It is NGP that has taken her to County Court for parking fines, not Ringley.
"Visitor spaces at Prospect Place are available on a first-come-first-served basis and are free to use. However, visitors are required to book their car in.
"The lady in question has one car parking space that comes with a relative's apartment but we understand from NGP that use of the parking space that comes with the apartment is currently being used by a friend. This means that she has been attempting on a continuous basis to park an additional car on-site in a visitor space, despite already having been allocated one resident's car parking space. Residents' car parking spaces form part of the leasehold agreement and are not allocated by Ringley.
"Ringley has met with the local council to try and find a solution.
"One solution is for her to return her space back to the freeholder and then to sit down with the site team and identify spaces that might be suitable for her and for us to arrange a space swap with another owner.
"There is a short supply of visitor spaces, which are for use for all, which is why we cannot provide her permanent use of a disabled visitor parking space."
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