Disabled boy ‘carried’ from school because of parking space row

8 year old Keir Wallace.     Picture: Neil Hanna
8 year old Keir Wallace. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A DISABLED boy has to be carried from school in severe pain because of a single objection to a special parking bay.

Eight-year-old Keir Wallace suffers from a rare condition which can suddenly leave him in agony and unable to walk.

The car parked in the disabled bay outside St John's primary School, in Portobello.

The car parked in the disabled bay outside St John's primary School, in Portobello.

But a disabled bay outside St John’s Primary School in Portobello’s Hamilton Terrace is being regularly used by a resident of the street because he claims the council has used the wrong traffic regulation order (TRO) and cannot fine anyone for parking there. As a result, dad John Wallace has to carry Keir 100 yards or further to his car when his condition worsens.

Geoff Pearson, secretary of the Northfield and Willowbrae Community Council and chair of homelessness charity Streetwork, regularly uses the space and has also lodged an objection to the bay, delaying the council’s plans to make parking there an offence.

Council officials have told the Wallaces that the objection means it will now be January before the issue is even discussed.

Mr Wallace, 60, a mature law student from Magdalene, said: “My son suffers from familial cold auto-inflammatory syndrome type 2 and is one of two people in the UK with the disease – the other is his mum.

Geoff Pearson Chair of the Board of Streetwork UK

Geoff Pearson Chair of the Board of Streetwork UK

“The disease causes his auto-immune system to switch on irregularly and his body attacks itself. This leaves him in severe to excruciating pain during outbreaks. He misses about 50 per cent of school. However, we do everything we can to get him there. Outside the school there is a painted disabled parking place but it’s only advisory and so not enforceable. It is regularly used by Mr Pearson, who is not disabled, if he can’t park at the front of his house in the same street.

“This has happened so often that when I’m called to the school because of my son’s pain, most of the time I cannot park close by and have to carry him across a main road. It’s disgraceful that a space for disabled drivers is being blocked by just one person who is in a position to help the community.”

Mr Wallace has won the support of the community council – despite Mr Pearson’s role – and they have written to the city council calling for the bay to become enforceable.

He is also being supported at the Scottish Parliament by the cross-party group for children and young people. It is understood that local councillors and MP Tommy Sheppard have also written in support.

Mr Pearson has defended his decision to park in the bay and to challenge the council’s traffic order. “The council is using the wrong traffic regulation order to paint this bay – and I am making that point,” he said. “Apparently around 20 years ago there were two disabled bays there but the markings faded over time and so they were just used by anyone.

“Then without any warning one disabled bay was re-painted. I have asked the council who painted it and why and no-one seems to know.

“My objection to it is solely based on the fact that the council is using the wrong traffic order – it is making it a ‘residential’ bay, in the same way a disabled person can apply for one outside their own home. That is not a bay where fines can be handed out.”

He added: “Yes, I do park in it, but only for short periods of time when I can’t get closer to my house as the street is generally full of teachers’ cars.”

Mr Pearson added: “I will withdraw my objection if the council uses the correct traffic order. Anyone could get some white paint and mark a disabled space on the road.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council is currently going through the process of making the disabled parking bay enforceable. We hope that in the meantime people would respect any disabled drivers who need to use the space, especially at school drop-off and pick-up times.”