We need these this parent-and-child car park spaces
PUBLISHED: 06:07 08 December 2017
Nick Conrad says it’s time to stop the abuse of parent-and-child spaces at supermarkets.
When I left my wife sitting in a supermarket car park in Wales, she was perfectly calm. When I walked out of the store I found an irate Emma, incensed and ranting. What had irked my usually unflappable spouse was an age-old problem, parking spaces. With two children and a double buggy, she needs space around the vehicle to safely remove the children from the car. Her frustration was that the few Parent & Baby spaces were taken up, not by young families, but by blue badge holders and those without children.
So for people who continually misuse parent and child car parking spaces and don’t really understand why parents get so irate about it, let me explain...
We need these spaces to stop our toddlers damaging the car in the next space. You’d be seething if a youngster, exerting independence climbing into their seat, inadvertently scratched your paintwork. We need to fix our children’s seat belts, preventing them flying around in the back of the car. Being located near the supermarket entrance is safer than navigating toddlers, with little road sense, across a busy and therefore dangerous car park. Most importantly, we need space to safely park a pram or pushchair alongside the car, without the risk of another vehicle swinging into the next space potentially striking our infants.
Abusing these spaces appears to be a common problem. A simple Google search will unearth a multitude of online forums and blogs ranting about the lack of respect for these spaces. Such bays are designed with much needed extra room around the car. Having tried to negotiate a shopping trolley, shop and fulfil my parental duties, I recognised the need for extra room to load both offspring and shopping into the car.
We rightly support disabled spaces without question. The same respect should be afforded to anyone looking after youngsters. Maybe car park operators need to do more to police who parks in these spaces.
So what are the rules? It’s not entirely clear. The terms on which certain bays can be used depend on the signage around the car park and how well they are placed. Restricting the use of certain bays is no problem, as long as the owner has made clear a charge will apply for misuse.
So what should you do if you see someone using the space without a child in the car? My wife, who hates confrontation, has challenged those violating the rules. It’s a matter of personal choice whether you make a report to the store – but sadly store staff are not usually employed by the car park company. You may find that nothing can be done.
What surprises me is how divisive these spaces are. The Mumsnet brigade are particularly vocal about their car park confrontations. Their anecdotes seem to suggest you’d be hard pressed to find a car park without motorists bickering. I take issue with anyone who is so flippant and selfish as to ignore child safety.
These spaces are vital, alleviating any stress and supporting the next generation. In this area my attitude to disabled drivers is mirrored - I have absolutely no problem with adults with children receiving preferential treatment. It’s clearly important to keep children safe in areas where cars are constantly manoeuvring in and out of spaces.