A DISABLED man is calling for Blue Badge parking not to be suspended on market days and feels Braintree Council is making disabled people feel unwelcome in the town.

Christopher Willcock, 70, of Sunnyfields Road, High Garrett, is a retired member of the emergency services.

He is severely disabled and bipolar, and uses a mobility scooter.

Although Mr Willcock doesn’t see himself as the “worst affected” compared to some other Blue Badge holders, he claims that disabled people are being let down.

This is because Blue Badge holders can not use Bank Street’s disabled parking bays during market days on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Braintree and Witham Times: Busy - another street view image of Bank StreetBusy - another street view image of Bank Street (Image: Google Maps)

The markets are popular event with many traders holding stalls in the town centre.

But stalls on Bank Street mean disabled parking spaces there are unavailable when the market is on.

Mr Willcock claims this affects disabled people who want to use facilities on Bank Street such as Santander, Iceland and other shops.

“I don’t have a problem with them pedestrianising the High Street but in doing so they have taken away a load of central disabled parking bays in the town.

Braintree and Witham Times: Speaking up for others - Christopher WillcockSpeaking up for others - Christopher Willcock (Image: Public)

“We avoid Braintree town centre now unless I absolutely must go. I don’t go Wednesday and Saturdays.

“It makes me feel I’m not important - that people like me aren’t welcome in the town.

“To suspend the parking impacts significantly on disabled people.

“It clearly displays a complete lack of appreciation on the issues faced by disabled people.

“The whole attitude towards people with disabilities stinks.”

Braintree and Witham Times: disabled - an illustrative image of a disabled parking signdisabled - an illustrative image of a disabled parking sign (Image: Pixabay)

Mr Willcock has contacted Braintree Council about the situation regularly since December last year and even reached out to MP James Cleverley but says he has not received a response from the politician and Home Secretary.

He claims there is a “simple solution” to the lack of Bank Street disabled parking.

He said: “Move the two market stalls into the high street where there is plenty of space or into the marketplace which is pedestrianised.

“It wouldn’t impact on anyone or the disabled parking spaces in the street.”

'Various other free accessible parking bays available'

A Braintree Council spokesman said: "We are aware 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.

"However, there are various other free accessible parking bays available in Braintree town, including spaces at George Yard Car park, Victoria Street car park, Tesco and Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

"There are also two disabled parking spaces available on Bank Street near the White Hart that are available on market days.

“As part of the council's considerations for the town centre improvements, it worked closely with Essex County Council, as the Highways Authority on all proposals.

"Ahead of the changes to parking bays, consultation was undertaken with notices placed in the area inviting responses to the changes.

"All responses received were considered as part of the final considerations, and ahead of the changes coming into effect late last year.

“Since the concerns were raised with the council in December, it has been working with all partner authorities involved to ensure that areas of concern are addressed.”