AN MSP whose car was photographed in a disabled parking bay has apologised by claiming “it was quite dark at the time”.
Colin Beattie’s £30,000 Land Rover was spotted taking up one of two blue badge-only spaces within the car park of Midlothian Council HQ in Dalkeith on Monday evening.
The SNP politician, who was in the building to attend a group meeting with party councillors, has spoken of his regret but has also taken a swipe at rival politicians whom he believes “should have better things to do” than circulate snaps of his badly parked luxury motor.
His actions have been labelled “shameful” by Labour councillors who posted a picture of the car on social media, but Mr Beattie, who served as a Midlothian councillor for five years, has blasted them for drawing public attention to his number plate.
He said: “We all make mistakes and I apologise for having done so but it was dark at the time and I was not aware it was a disabled spot when I parked up.”
Mr Beattie, whose wife and present councillor, Lisa Beattie, stood down as council leader after just five weeks in the job, added: “I find it irresponsible for the Labour Party to publish the details of a politician’s car, especially when that politician’s vehicle has suffered vandalism in the past.
“Have they nothing better to do? You would think they would be employed in looking at bigger issues and constituent matters rather than where I have parked my car.”
Mr Beattie’s silver car sports a distinctive registration plate featuring the letters SNP – leaving passers-by in little doubt as to the identity of the owner.
Labour group leader Councillor Derek Milligan, who questioned why Mr Beattie would have such a recognisable plate if he had issues with his car being vandalised, said: “Colin Beattie should be ashamed of himself for taking up a disabled parking space.
“This kind of selfishness might have been considered OK by Mr Beattie in his former life as a banker, but it’s not good enough in Midlothian. He only lives a short walk down the road anyway. It’s as if he thinks he is the lord of the manor and can do what he likes.”
Mr Beattie’s wife, Lisa, has previously come under fire for running up a £7000 bill for using the council’s chauffeur-driven limousine between 2007 and 2009.
A spokeswoman for disability charity Capability Scotland said: “The misuse of accessible parking spaces is a constant headache for disabled people. Drivers sometimes forget that the spaces are there to allow people with mobility problems to access shops, medical appointments, employment and leisure opportunities and other facilities.”
A Midlothian Council spokesman said the snap of the parked car would need to be reviewed. He said that would help them “determine the next steps in our response”.
Osborne caught at service station
IN October, the News revealed how an ambulance crew landed itself in hot water after they parked in a disabled space before going on a supermarket shopping trip at Cameron Toll.
A shopper complained to their bosses after the medics left their vehicle in a bay for blue-badge holders at the shopping centre.
Numerous free spaces were available in the car park, which has space for 1200 vehicles.
Back in June, Chancellor George Osborne was engulfed in a PR disaster after his car was caught parked in a disabled parking space .
The Conservative was buying lunch at a motorway service station on the M4 when he was snapped. The timing could not have been worse for Osborne, who had spent the week fiercely defending the coalition’s cuts to welfare, including disability benefits.