DISABLED and vulnerable people were left “in tears” after being slapped with fines under new “unpublicised” parking restrictions for blue badge holders.

Several residents were given fines after parking in what they believed were acceptable spaces in Bank Street for last week’s Braintree market on Wednesday.

However, under new restrictions, which one concerned resident claims were “unpublicised”, visitors are banned from using the disabled parking spaces on market days, Wednesdays and Sundays.

Speaking to the Times, the resident, who asked not to been named, said: “Everyone who parked there was given a ticket.

“Vulnerable people were left in tears.

“Disabled people are some of the poorest people in the country and now they have been stung with fines after Braintree Council removed blue badge parking in Bank Street on market days.

“The town centre is dying, and the council is stopping people from accessing the town.

“For the vast majority of disabled people, the George Yard car park is too far to walk. And there are too few spaces there anyway.

“Why not give warning notices about parking in Bank Street until vulnerable people get used to the new restrictions?

“No. Braintree Council has pushed the disabled out of the town centre and fined them for daring to try and shop locally.”

A Braintree Council spokesman said: "We are aware that some accessible parking bays are not in operation on days when the Braintree market takes place and appreciate this may cause inconvenience to some residents.

"The North East Parking Partnership is responsible for this matter.

"Ahead of the restrictions, warning notices were placed and a date was set to respond to the closures, followed by signage being placed in September 2023 and enforcement of fixed penalty notices commenced in November 2023.

"There are various other accessible parking bays available in Braintree town, including spaces at George Yard car park, Victoria Road car park, Tesco and Sainsbury’s supermarket car parks."

The council also said it will soon be installing new benches in the town centre which will provide further sitting and resting places for people. 

A spokesman for North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) added: “We understand some of the concerns regarding recent changes to parking restrictions on Bank Street in Braintree town centre, which were advertised as part of the formal legal process.

“We would like to assure residents that NEPP has worked closely with partners to ensure that disabled parking remains available in the town centre, including on market days, and that Braintree town centre is a thriving and accessible place for everyone.

“The changes to Bank Street were made necessary to accommodate the street market, which requires the use of some parking bays for the operation of the market stalls.

"The changes just apply to Wednesdays and Saturdays.

"Outside of these days, the restrictions remain unchanged with all bays being available for disabled badge holder parking.

“We recognise that George Yard car park may be too far to walk for some disabled badge holders.

"However, we would like to remind residents that disabled badge holders are entitled to concessions that allow them to park on-street in certain areas.

"Additionally, George Yard car park offers free-of-charge parking for up to three hours for disabled badge holders.”