March 12 2014 Latest news:
Wendy and Paul Ledington with their daugter Selina (13) who is blind and profoundly disabled. Their road is parked up and they need a disabled space outside their home so they can cope with Selina's complex needs. Picture: James Bass
Saturday, January 12, 2013
THEY bought their dream home in Great Yarmouth believing their severely disabled daughter would enjoy a better quality of life.
But the Ledington family say they feel like “prisoners” in Kitchener Road, as the county council will not allow them a disabled parking space.
Parents Wendy and Paul and their three children relocated from the Midlands in November 2012, after falling in love with the town over seven years holidaying in Hemsby - and say attractions here are far more wheelchair accessible than in the Midlands.
But without a disabled parking space to help their wheelchair-bound daughter Selina, 13, they feel trapped.
The teenager is totally blind, suffers from epilepsy and severe global developmental delay, and the family’s specially adapted Peugeot van requires three metres of space behind it for her wheelchair ramp.
Dad Paul, 48, explained they cannot walk far with the large wheelchair as it is difficult to manoeuvre and is not fully waterproof.
And he did not expect the lack of driveway to be a problem, as in the Midlands they requested a disabled parking spot and one was painted within three weeks of the request.
He fumed: “The government has come out after the Paralympics saying it’s changed people’s views on disability, but we can’t even get a disabled parking space.
“As a holiday maker you’re catered for very well, but as locals it’s different.
“We thought they looked after their own but we’ve been shocked.”
He added he could not have wanted for better neighbours, and one even saves a spot for their car with his work van.
But people park on the road and walk into the town centre, leaving them without a big enough parking spot.
Mum Wendy, 47, said: “I know we don’t have a right to park outside the house and it’s the goodwill of your neighbours.
“Everybody pays the road tax, but when it comes to people like Selina it makes life a little bit more difficult.
“It’s about her experience in life and the more she can get out of it the more she can learn, but we can’t do all the things we want,”
The family of five - completed by brothers Stephen, 15, and Stewart, six - said Yarmouth offered them more activities than the Midlands, from simple things like getting the wheelchair into KFC to days out at family attractions.
“What other people take for granted we can have in Yarmouth,” said Wendy. “At least that’s what we thought.”
Mick Castle, councillor for Central and Northgate ward, has been calling for the county council to make an exception to the rules and allow the Ledington’s a disabled parking space.
But Robert West, highway engineer at Norfolk County Council, said: “We understand the frustration of the Ledington family but under highway legislation Norfolk County Council cannot provide parking for individuals on the public highway.
“We can only provide such facilities in public areas such as car parks and town centres.
“We realise this will be disappointing but can only suggest they erect a request for no parking sign on their property garden wall. This approach is dependant on the goodwill of nearby residents but it could help in providing a solution to the problem.”
The family say they are disappointed with this as they believe people walking into town will ignore the notice.
And they said the proposed residents’ parking scheme will offer little respite, as it does not guarantee them a space near their home.