Anger over parent-child spaces taken at shopping centres

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Parents are growing increasingly frustrated over the lack of car parking spaces for customers with children in the Portadown and Craigavon area.

Customers of the High Street Mall, Asda and Rushmere Shopping Centre, have voiced their anger after witnessing fellow shoppers parking their cars in parent-and-child allocated spaces - without children.

Parent-and-child car parking spaces are usually located closer to shop entrances and also allow extra room for parents to move their children in and out of car seats. However, their proximity to shop doors have proven especially tempting to customers without children, who simply want faster access to shops.

Parents suggest that the most recurring offenders seem to be owners of more expensive models of cars, who park in parent-and-child spaces to protect their vehicles from being damaged by cars parked beside them.

Ruth Robinson, who lives in Craigavon, has encountered the problem on numerous occasions in both Asda and Rushmere. “The problem exists everywhere,” she explained. “It’s the simple fact that these people don’t have youngsters. I went over to the shopping centre last week and there was a woman sitting in a BMW without children.”

Ruth, who has two sons, aged one and seven, acknowledges that parent-and-child spaces are there for the benefit of all car park users, “You don’t want to be damaging other people’s cars by parking in normal spaces. Those parent-and-child spaces have been made wider to prevent that from happening. It’s a safety issue, too.” Ruth is concerned that, while there are signs in Rushmere’s car park which threaten a fine for those who misuse spaces, there does not appear to be any surveillance to ensure fines are issued to those in breach of the rules.

Rushmere Shopping Centre manager Martin Walsh said, “Our customers’ ability to park quickly, safely and in appropriate bays is a top priority for us and we proactively promote and regularly monitor the use of allocated child and toddler spaces, which are all clearly marked for the benefit of those customers who require them. Overall, our current system works very well - thanks in the large part to the common sense approach and honesty demonstrated by our customers.”

Tracey Jackson, manager of High Street Mall, said the mall has 11 parent and child spaces in its car park, adding, “We monitor the spaces every hour and anyone who we believe should not be parked there is given a sticker, which is very hard to remove. On the odd occasion we have got it wrong, but we monitor it as best we can.”