Disability Modifications: Public Portal

Oral Answers to Questions — Infrastructure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 22nd November 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP 3:15 pm, 22nd November 2021

T1. Mr Allen asked the Minister for Infrastructure, after welcoming the Department's Think Before You Park awareness campaign in relation to pavement parking and stating that another issue experienced by many wheelchair users is the lack of dropped kerbs on some footpaths, to outline whether the Department has considered a public-facing portal where requests for such modifications could be made. (AQT 1811/17-22)

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for his question and for his support in trying to address pavement parking. The Member will know that on 1 November I launched the Department's Think Before You Park road safety campaign, which aims to highlight the dangers that are associated with pavement parking. I believe that it has been broadly welcomed and has started an important and healthy debate. I want to update the Member and say that, in parallel to that campaign, because I want to do more to tackle the issue, I will also go out to the public to seek views on how we deal with inconsiderate and obstructive pavement parking. I will produce a paper, make it public and invite the public to comment.

I am happy to take the issue of dropped kerbs and the portal away and speak to officials, and I will provide a written update to the Member afterwards.

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP

I thank the Minister for her answer and commitment to look into the issue. When will the consultation on obstructive parking go live?

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

My intention is that I will be in receipt of the paper and that, early in the new year, I will make it public so that we can invite comments and get stakeholders' views from right across the North to inform the way forward. I am frustrated that I have not been able to make more progress on the issue, because, in my view, it will require legislative change, and that is not possible within this mandate. However, I am focused on ensuring that we move the issue forward so that the Infrastructure Minister in the next mandate can take the action that is required.

The important point here is that the majority of pavement parking is done because people do not think. They do not realise the impact that it has on people with mobility difficulties and people who are pushing prams and how it forces them out onto the road and makes them more vulnerable. We need to look at education, informing behavioural change and enforcement. We also need to look at the legislation to ensure that it is fit for purpose in tackling the issue.