Tesco has come up with an innovative approach to clamping down on drivers who try to park in disabled spots without a blue badge.
The supermarket chain has provided its car park attendants with special gadgets able to check whether motorists have the right permit to use the spaces.
These devices link up to official records kept by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) so that drivers parking illegally can be detected.
If a car is found to belong to someone without a blue badge, attendants are able to send a fine directly to the driver’s home address.
Clampdown on parking cheats
There have been growing efforts in recent years to try to clamp down on motorists using spaces designated for people with disabilities.
These include replacing the old handwritten parking permits with plastic badges bearing holograms, which are thought to be harder to counterfeit.
The running of eligibility tests has also been taken over by local councils from GPs, who were said to be taking an inconsistent approach to making decision on blue badges.
It is a problem of particular concern given that many of those who require the spaces are ex-servicemen and women who have been seriously injured in the field.
Abuse of the system has prompted complaints from both disabled and able-bodied shoppers.
Paralympian cyclist Simon Richardson is just one of those to have spoken out in recent years about the problems that disabled people face when trying to park their car.
He said that many people with disabilities have to structure their lives around the likelihood of being able to find a free space, and that he has to time trips to the supermarket to ensure he can find a blue badge space.
The decision to introduce the handheld gadgets at Tesco was taken by the chain’s car park operations manager, who has said she has a personal reason for doing so.
Cat Parkinson said her parents both taught at a school for pupils with special needs, giving her first-hand experience of the needs of those with disabilities.
She explained: “The new self-monitoring scheme allows stores to better control their car park, to help protect the disabled bays. This makes parking at Tesco fairer for everyone.”