Laytown-Bettystown Councillor, Sharon Tolan.
Laytown-Bettystown Councillor, Sharon Tolan (FG) secured the unanimous support of her fellow councillors at the monthly meeting of Meath County Council yesterday, for a motion she submitted to introduce a pilot scheme for specific parking spaces to be provided for those with a “hidden disability”.
The motion called on Meath County Council to introduce new 'Hidden Disability' parking spaces at popular family locations across the county, similar to the very successful Hidden Disability Sunflower Spaces provided by Waterford County Council.
"I don’t believe we need to wait for national legislation or national policy before piloting a scheme in Meath to provide parking spaces for those with a hidden disability” said Councillor Tolan. “We could be the Local Authority who leads the way and brings about national policy by championing it at council level first.
“We all know families and individuals who are trying their best to navigate the world we live in, with a disability. It’s a difficult thing to do, and we as a Local Authority have a duty to do all we can to improve our environment and make it more accessible.
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“This can be particularly difficult for those living with a hidden disability, and it can be difficult for others to identify and understand the challenges they face….and I believe we have a duty to those families too, to make our public areas as accessible as possible for those with a hidden disability.
“The introduction of a scheme, similar to the Age Friendly parking scheme, does not require legislation. It’s not enforceable, and it would depend wholly on goodwill and understanding. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a discreet sign that the user has a hidden disability and may need additional support.
“I would ask for support for the introduction of Hidden Disability Parking Spaces, and look to trial two spaces in the parking area on Bettystown beach that is currently available for Disability and Age Friendly parking” Tolan said at the meeting.
There were a number of supportive contributions from Councillors right across the county. The pilot will now be developed by the Transportation SPC with a view to introducing spaces at Bettystown beach as a priority.
“We have a number of families who feel excluded from accessing the beach due to the nature of their child’s condition. This is the best way to address that and ensure that our beaches, but in a wider context all public parks and playgrounds, are accessible for all” Tolan concluded.
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