A NEWLY refurbished car park has come under fire after disabled spaces were moved and placed as far away from a beach as possible.
The concerns were raised just days after Southend Council unveiled its newly refurbished East Beach, Shoebury car park, including additional parking spaces and electric vehicle charging stations.
Disabled residents have criticized the designs, after disabled parking spaces were placed in places furthest from the beach.
Southend resident Steven Douglas, who has multiple sclerosis which makes walking difficult, says he no longer feels he can park safely on the beach, despite it being one of his favorite places to visit.
“My wife and I are big fans of East Beach and previously we parked in the handicapped spaces right by the beach which was ideal,” said Mr Douglas, 41, “But with the Where they are now is another 30 – 50 meters, which is a long walk for me.
He added: “As things stand I don’t think I’ll be going to East Beach as if we only have disabled spaces left we’d be really hard pressed to get to the beach.”
The town hall says it is ready to review the car park, which has 218 spaces, including 12 spaces for the disabled and 3 spaces for coaches.
Further improvements have also been made to the area, with a dedicated footpath and cycle access from Shoeburyness High Street, as well as additional solar lighting columns and increased CCTV coverage.
East Beach’s improved parking lot reopened last weekend.
Steven Wakefield, the council’s parking boss, said: “Accessibility and safety are key priorities in the design of the new East Beach car park and the disabled bays are strategically located close to the dedicated walkway through the parking.
“This walkway joins the sidewalk near the toilet block and the crossing point to the beach, located near the entrance to the car park.
“We will of course keep the spaces under review for the first four weeks of opening and may make any necessary changes that may be required to ensure that the car park meets the needs of all users.
“We are also seeking Park Mark accreditation which aims to reduce both crime and fear of crime in car parks.”