Disability awarenessDisability editing with a laptopSovereign Harbour Disability Association (SHDA)

Eastbourne East group striving for inferior British laws affecting the disabled to match those in North America, Europe and elsewhere

Sovereign Harbour Estate Agents' COP Council Tax Wrongs E-mails Forbes Clan
General John Forbes July 4 music SH Disability Association SH Seniors Forum  

By Keith A. Forbes. A disabled author and journalist, he lives with his wife in the harbour and writes and webmasters this website as an activist for the elderly, disabled and vulnerable.

Wheelchair for disabled

About the Sovereign Harbour Disability Association

Sovereign Harbour North

2016-2021 Chair. Keith A. Forbes, Flat 18, 16 San Diego Way, Sovereign Harbour North, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN23 5BG. 

We are the only voluntary Eastbourne Disability Group - Sovereign Harbour-based (in the town of Eastbourne but a separate community three miles east) not content to just merely accept current UK disability conditions. As once-expatriate British disabled activists our intent is to persuade our local authorities and members of parliament of all political stripes to finally get the UK to enact and upgrade disability-friendly legislation to at least match, if not exceed, the far more comprehensive disability laws standards currently in effect in the European Union, Canada, the USA, Australia, etc. There, they review them thoroughly periodically. In contrast, here in the UK more than 25 years have passed with no meaningful changes. 

Sovereign Harbour mobility path

We show much of what needs to be done in items 1-19 below.

We are a voluntary group that meets mostly online, especially during the 2020-2021 pandemic.

Sovereign Harbour is the most easterly of the Eastbourne electoral wards. Before 2017 it was possible for disabled Sovereign Harbour residents to use a number 5 or 5a hourly bus to go downtown and get off and back on the bus at the same stance D bus stop very close to the Beacon shopping mall. But now, going into town involves a considerable disabled-unfriendly cross-town walk to get to the Beacon and going back home means an appreciably longer walk than before to get to the relevant newly-numbered stance on Terminal Road, now located so much further from the Beacon than before. Also, for the mobility-impaired who need a walking stick or crutches to get around Eastbourne, thee town has many pavements that are uneven, have been repaired often and are simply not safe to walk upon without risk of falling and injury. And in the Phase 2 2020/21 redevelopment of the town, disabled parking spaces that were once in the middle of the town centre have either disappeared or moved much further out, more than 100 metres away, making it more difficult than ever for the disabled to walk or wheelchair to their cars, especially when the disabled who can walk a little can only do so for a maximum of 50 metres without needing to rest.  

Blue Badge Disabled Parking in Eastbourne was reduced by 20% in Eastbourne town centre, in 2020 and 2021. But in 2020-2021 all other countries, without exception, increased the number of disabled parking areas. Even in the City of Hamilton in Bermuda, one of the smallest cities by size in the entire world and with Bermuda, only 56 kilometres in total land area being one of the world's smallest counties, increased in 2021 its number of disabled parking spaces by 28 to 73 after seeing what has been done in the USA and Canada, Bermuda's nearest neighbours albeit 630-830  miles away.

Concessionary free bus service into Eastbourne for the elderly and disabled is not available until 0930 hours, meaning  many cannot make it to town on the 5 or 5a buses until nearly 10 am, then have to walk further than before as mentioned above. 

Eastbourne, despite having the highest number of disabled and/or elderly and frail per capita in the UK, and with Eastbourne and Sussex police pledging support for the vulnerable on the police website, gets no such police support. Police will not ticket those who abuse disabled parking signs. Police have never prosecuted people who for years as cyclists have deliberately ignored no-cycling signs on Eastbourne's pedestrian-only walkway along the Promenade that was built to allow pedestrians whether fit and able or disabled and/or frail and vulnerable and their necessarily close-by carers to walk in peace. Until it was voted down en masse by indignant local disability organizations including this one, the 2020 Covid-19-related central government scheme to encourage more people to cycle instead of using cars or public transport led to a determined effort by both the Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council to create a new pavement-using cycle route that included the removal of many existing disabled parking permit areas.

Caxton House DWPDisability Unit. https://disabilityunit.blog.gov.uk. Part of UK's Cabinet Office. Replaced Office for Disability Issues. 

Minister for Disabled People. Health and Work. Chloe Smith, MP. Appointed September 2021 and re-titled. Earlier, the office-holder had the title of  Minister of State (Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work). Justin Tomlinson, MP, office-holder until September 2021 was replaced. It was he who was responsible for the supposedly ambitious and wide-ranging new National Strategy for Disabled People that promised so much but delivered so little. 25 years ago, some laws were changed to assist the disabled but none since. 

The introduction to the new National Strategy for Disabled People stated:

"We in the UK remain hugely behind other countries in so many meaningful ways. The Cabinet Office’s Disability Unit is working with government colleagues, disabled people, disabled people’s organisations, charities and businesses to achieve practical changes that will remove barriers and increase participation. A key focus is the development of a National Strategy for Disabled People. This will put fairness at the heart of government work, to level up opportunity so everyone can fully participate in the life of this country. 

The strategy will build on evidence and data, and critically on insights from the lived experience of disabled people. It will include existing commitments, such as to increase special educational needs and disability funding and support pupils, students and adults to get careers advice, internships and transition into work, whilst identifying further opportunities to improve things. 

Our objectives for the National Strategy for Disabled People are to develop a positive and clear vision on disability which is owned right across government; make practical changes to policies which strengthen disabled people’s ability to participate fully in society; ensure lived experience underpins policies by identifying what matters most to disabled people; strengthen the ways in which we listen to disabled people and disabled people’s organisations, using these insights to drive real change; and improve the quality of evidence and data and use it to support policies and how we deliver them. 

As the coronavirus pandemic is the current priority for the government, we are reviewing our plans for the development of the strategy. We want to ensure we have enough time to get this right and undertake a full and appropriate programme of stakeholder engagement. People’s views and insights will be crucial as we work with colleagues across government, disabled people and other stakeholders on possible solutions." 

Unfortunately, a number of disabled organizations expressed their shock and dismay about how the survey was so heavy in words yet so light in substance.

On behalf of this group, this author filled in the survey form and recommending a number of ways to substantially improve the lives of the disabled, using the methodologies employed by the USA, Canada and the European Union but not yet in effect in the UK. 

For his efforts, the author was thanked by the Cabinet Office involved with the strategy.

There is an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Disability.  It has not delivered. The new National Strategy for Disabled People, released in July 2021 - see https://disabilityunit.blog.gov.uk/2021/07/28/rights-and-perceptions-national-disability-strategy-explained/ is a farce. The matters shown below have been ignored and because of it still apply.

 

1. Equality Act 2010 is a disgrace, watered-down version of the DDA

The current Equality Act 2010 - see www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents - replaced the earlier Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

It does not help disabled people living in Britain in the way the much more robust Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) - see http://www.ada.gov - and https://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm  does.  Here in the UK, the legal and social welfare systems for the disabled badly need updating and improving. Yet local disability groups are not making waves, are not demanding legislative changes at local authority and national parliamentary levels. There is no comparison with the USA's powerful and effective Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar in Europe, Canada and beyond. (In Canada see http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/socialpolicy/fda/1006). The lack of UK legislative teeth has so infuriated some overseas visitors that they have complained publicly (see our Emails). We get them because we are networked with overseas groups. We have a World Wide Website duty to let all disabled visitors to the Eastbourne area who are long-used to disability provisions in their own countries being protected by law both in the public and private sectors, know they should not believe that similar comprehensive disability laws apply here. They do not, as we demonstrate clearly in numbers 1-16 in the following pages. As we show in several areas above and below, unlike the legal protections routinely offered the disabled by the police throughout the EU, North America, etc, we get no such protection from the police or local authorities here in the UK.

 

2. Public buildings not required to be disabled-accessible

Tower of London, only partially accessible to disabledADA Accessibility Standards 2012Here in the UK, unlike in other countries, there is no legally-required disability-friendly physical equal access under the Equality Act despite its name, to any shops, stores, public buildings historic or otherwise for disabled people. 

They merely require owners of public and private buildings including churches  to make "reasonable changes." 

But in the USA, also Canada, Europe and beyond, it is a legal requirement that all public and private building developments including hotels and those on historical registers must be fully accessible to the registered disabled. 

Photo left: Tower of London.

In the USA, the Department of Justice's revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA), published in the Federal Register of September 15, 2010, adopted revised, enforceable accessibility standards called the 2020 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. They replaced the 1991 Standards. On March 15, 2012 compliance with these standards was required for all new public and private sector construction under Titles II and III. Since then, they have been further revised.

3. Building and Planning laws are poor for disabled and elderly

They are not up to international standards. In the UK, national, regional and local government-regulated private and public-sector owned buildings used for residential accommodation of the disabled, elderly or mobility-impaired do not specifically require accommodation units to be disabled-friendly in accessibility or have lifts (elevators) or banisters on both sides of staircases or above-ground or below-ground garaged or disabled parking based on a certain number of non-disabled car parking spaces, unlike in the European Union, USA and elsewhere. Nor is there any legal requirement that areas outside the buildings that are not assigned car parking spaces be kept clear at all times for emergency vehicles.

UK planning laws are governed mostly by local authorities, with only limited oversight in national legislation and make no formal disability requirements whatsoever in private sector building development or ongoing maintenance or redevelopment. Only Northern Ireland is somewhat more disabled-friendly, for new buildings only. Further, beyond the UK, whenever and wherever any public or private building or civic improvement or town planning works or town or city or other municipal entity occur, when affecting in any way anyone with a certifiable disability, a statutory minimum written notice of at least one calendar month is required. Not so here in the UK where there is no stated minimum-time requirement.

4. London Tube system not disabled-friendly in many instances

Visitors to the UK who are disabled and UK residents are rarely able to go by tube or subway in London where so few tube stations have lifts and ramps. 

5. No national and local authority Disability identification

disability symbolsIn the USA, Canada, Europe, etc. all who are registered as permanently-disabled carry a state-issued but nationally accepted identification card with their photograph, contact details and type of disability shown on it. In the European Union and certain other countries, similar identity cards are issued. Thus they can prove they are disabled and as such are entitled to use disabled facilities including having cars pre-registered for disability tolls exemption and other  relevant services both nationwide and abroad. 

No such registration exists at national or county (local authority) level for any UK-based disabled. Which means that when moving house from one UK local authority area to another, or applying for disability or seniors disability benefits or concessions from a new area, the disabled have to reapply each time, using the cumbersome method for each application of sending a copy of the official disability letter issued at national level. Making matters worse is that each local authority has different regulations. There are several private-sector Disabled Identification and/or Access card issuers, each claiming their cards, issued yearly or for three years, at a cost of £10-£15 per person, are accepted by various organizations, but to date they have not said specifically that they are accepted by councils or local authorities in lieu of an official eligibility letter. All the latter will still require you, when applying for applicable benefits or concessions,  to send annual relevant copies of the eligibility letter. So the private-sector disability identification card may not be of much value-for-money use.

Such a council or local authority-issued - legal government ID -Disability Identification Card should include:

6. No legal provision for disabled to have assistant service and support animals

Pets at homeUnlike in USA, Canada, European Union, etc. Note the differences between the two. 

Assistance Service animals - specifically called this to distinguish them from mere pets - are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. These tasks can include things like pulling a wheelchair, guiding a person who is visually impaired, alerting a person who is having a seizure, or even calming a person who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The tasks a service dog can perform are not limited to this list. However, the work or task a service dog does must be directly related to the person's disability. Service dogs may accompany persons with disabilities into places that the public normally goes. This includes state and local government buildings, businesses open to the public, public transportation, and non-profit organizations open to the public. The law that allows a trained service dog to accompany a person with a disability is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Assistance and Emotional support animals (typically dogs or cats though this can include other species) - again to distinguish them from mere pets - provide therapeutic benefits to their owners through companionship. The animals provide emotional support and comfort to individuals with psychiatric disabilities and other mental impairments. The animals are not specifically trained to perform tasks for a person who suffers from emotional disabilities. Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal is not granted access to places of public accommodation. Under the USA's federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), an emotional support animal is viewed as a "reasonable accommodation" in a housing unit that has a "no pets" rule for its residents.

In the USA, Canada, European Union and elsewhere, but not in the United Kingdom, those those in particular who are disabled or elderly and living on their own as widows or widowers in public or private rented or leased housing are fully entitled under their country's or state's or provincial laws to have an Assistance Animal that is much more than just a pet. It is classified as one that provides assistance to or performs tasks for the benefit of a person registered with their authorities as having an applicable disability. Under US Federal Law and with equivalents elsewhere, under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers both public and private individuals who qualify may request to keep an Assistance Animal and housing providers cannot refuse to comply in policies, practices and services.

7. Blue Badge (Disabled) Parking in Eastbourne: grossly misused and not enforced

Disabled badge holders onlyWith no Police enforcement at all in most public and all private areas. Under the Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Act 1913, the "Blue Badge" scheme is administered by local authorities.  

It provides parking concessions for certain severely disabled people to enable them to park without charge or time limit  in otherwise restricted on-street environments (or on-street parking meters, pay-and-display, disabled parking bays) and to park on certain yellow lines in England for up to three hours. 

The scheme has existed since 1971 and facilitates access for 2.6 million disabled people. The primary legislation governing the scheme is Section 21 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and sections 115 and 117 of the Road Traffic Act Regulations 1984. 

Section 21 makes provision for matters to be prescribed by regulations which are subject to annulment by resolution of legislators in their respective devolved jurisdictions. As can be seen from the above, UK laws to protect the disabled from misuse of signed disabled parking places are essentially via local authorities, minimal when compared to laws in the USA, Canada, European Union and elsewhere and out-of-date. 

Here in the UK there are two types of Disabled Parking Bays. 

Advisory Bays. Private parking. Of the type found at private doctors' offices, medical centres, supermarkets and other retail store forecourts, etc,, doctors officers, etc.  Not legally enforceable

Formal Bays. Public Parking. These have a Traffic Regulation Order, which means they can be enforced. 

They are installed where on-street Council-imposed parking restrictions are in force

Disabled Parking misuseCouncils, most of which rarely charge offenders and more often than not have no records  at all showing how many fines have been levied for violations of Public Parking.

There are also no records whatsoever for Advisory Bays because they disclaim responsibility for having them policed.

 They should bring in penalties for deliberate abuse for both Advisory Bays and Formal Bays up to international code, not the pathetic £60 now, if imposed at all

It should now be a minimum of £160 (the average, in US $250 in every state of the USA), for first offence, double that for the second, triple plus impoundment of vehicle for the third. 

Only when scofflaws realize it carries a heavy penalty will they stop. 

Councils that complain they are short of funds could make £ millions by imposing fines on disabled parking offenders. 

A crucial, long-going but in Eastbourne and other parts of East Sussex completely ineffective campaign has been to pressure local authorities to ensure that the Blue Badge scheme is property administered and enforced. National Blue Badge statistics released on 20 January 2021 reveal that many local authorities are not upholding the integrity of the scheme

This increase was expected following the extension of the Blue Badge eligibility criteria which came into effect in August 2019. Local authorities issued 996,000 badges in 2019/20 and 26,000 of these were issued to individuals with non-visible disabilities under the new eligibility criteria. 

Disabled Parking USA penaltiesIt is good that Blue Badges are being issued to people with non-visible disabilities who need them but it puts more pressure on a scheme that is already poorly enforced and makes effective enforcement more important than ever. 

Included in the Blue Badge statistics are the numbers of prosecutions for misuse of the Blue Badge scheme. 

The statistics look at local authorities - not just in one part but in the whole of England - in the period year ended 31 March 2020. 

The statistics show that only 1,429 prosecutions took place during this period compared to 1,432 the previous year. 

Similar to last year, 98% of these prosecutions were the result of a non-Blue Badge holder using somebody else’s Blue Badge.

Despite the slight decrease in prosecutions, the number of local authorities which have a ‘yes’ policy when it comes to prosecuting Blue Badge misuse has risen from 66% to 69%. 

However, there is disappointment in the level of enforcement because only 62% of the local authorities which say they prosecute Blue Badge misuse actually prosecuted somebody. 

The remaining 38% did not have any prosecutions.  

This means that only two-thirds of the authorities that have a ‘yes’ to prosecution policy actually use it to enforce the scheme.  

Photo left shows American state-wide minimum penalties for violations by non-disabled or non-permit holding of Handicapped Parking. These violations are spotted quickly, rigorously enforced and prosecuted speedily. 

But here in the UK, what is the sense in having a prosecution policy in place if it is not going to be used? 

While the prosecution figures for each individual authority have become slightly more widespread, the majority of prosecutions (53%) were recorded in London. 

In UK, this sign is ignored 75% of the time Thus, those who live outside the capital are unlikely to see much enforcement in the local area. Enforcement of the Blue Badge scheme remains disappointingly slow. 

Enforcement is more crucial than ever considering the rise in the number of people who are entitled to hold a Blue Badge. 

All local authorities should be enforcing the scheme effectively.

 If a local authority has a prosecution policy, it is crucial that it is used to prosecute those abusing the scheme when necessary. 

 It is not good enough to have a policy that lays dormant and no action taken. 

The government needs to put more pressure on local authorities to make sure the integrity of the scheme is upheld. 

But in places such as Eastbourne, neither the Eastbourne Borough Council local authority nor the East Sussex County Council regional authority have any records on numbers of prosecutions. 

It can be deduced from the above that these two local authorities in Eastbourne failing to keep track of disabled parking violations.

They are also failing to benefit financially from the revenues that could be earned from such prosecutions. Not even at the three large hospitals - Eastbourne General and Conquest in Hastings - and several smaller ones -in the East Sussex County Council precinct. 

Disabled Parking 3The problem has gone on for over 21 years. In his letter dated 4 May 2006 addressed to this author, Bert Massie CBE, then Chairman of the UK's Disability Rights Commission - said in part: "I have experienced the strong enforcement exercised in the USA and Canada which ensures that parking bays for disabled motorists are only occupied by those people for whom they were designed. I would certainly welcome similar legislation in this country. As a wheelchair user myself and a driver I too am constantly frustrated by non-disabled people stealing disabled people's parking bays. The growing anger of disabled people is entirely understandable and I have called on several occasions for stronger law enforcement." 

Disability Hate Crimes are constantly committed by Disability Parking offenders without penalty. Those with valid Blue Disabled badges, when they try to complain to scofflaws, are constantly harassed or threatened.

Blue Badge Disabled Parking Restrictions in rest of UK, getting worse, not better.   

More and more councils were allowing Disabled Parking concessions only to those whose tax disc showed their vehicles were in the disabled tax class. 

But when the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) stopped issuing tax discs  and moved instead to electronic records, many councils are now requiring all Blue Badge holders to bring their vehicle's V5C Registration Certificate (log book) and to register individually with them, for a fee of course. 

But Motability customers (including these authors) don't have V5Cs because Motability retains them. Motability allows its customers to obtain a copy but councils should not be imposing such new restrictions on the disabled. In other councils, for example, Rother District Council, Christchurch and East Dorset, special permits are now needed before Blue Badge Holders can park for free, not all day, in council car parks. 

And in the English Lake District, only the first half hour is free. Disabled drivers with Blue Badges, are advised to avoid the Lake District because there are often either very few places or none at all available in Lake District towns. In huge contrast, in Scotland, disabled parking for permit holders is free all day.

8. Eastbourne does not allow a personal Disabled Parking Bay at your home

If your disability means that you need to park close to your home, your local council may not be able to help. Yes, if you live in an area where everybody parks on the street, you can arrange to have a disabled parking space created, but it will not be just for your car. Anyone else who has a disabled parking badge is equally entitled to use it. If you have private parking at your home but can't always access it because of how other people park, you can ask the council to mark the street as an access route. If your disability means you can no longer use the parking facilities on your property, or have a disabled-related difficulty in accessing it in winter or due to stone curbs that impede your path and could be dangerous, or some other impediment, you can apply for a reserved on-street parking space.

Pre-conditions:

However, note that residential disabled car parking spaces provided under the Disabled Car Parking Space scheme are advisory only, and have no legal standing (unlike in the USA, Europe, etc). Their use relies on the good will of people in the community. Be aware this may cost the applicant. In the UK it will not be for your use only. Anyone else who has a Disabled Parking Badge can park there.

Be aware that even you are disabled in accordance with the above criteria but live in a flat or terraced house in a private off-street development where there is a common driveway but no garage and have an assigned regular (not disabled) parking space not wide enough for a disabled person to access or exit safely, you may still not qualify for a disabled parking space. The Council cannot intervene in the matter because here in the UK, unlike in the EU or Canada or USA, etc. there are no national or local authority residential or planning regulations requiring private properties to provide genuinely-disabled persons with disabled parking. Only in public areas or on public streets is this required.

In all the residential areas of Sovereign Harbour there are NO disabled legally enforceable parking spaces. Unfortunately, the Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council do not follow the example of European Union, USA and Canadian jurisdictions in requiring developers of private-area properties to have the same disability parking laws and provisions as in public or town or city areas.

Disabled visitors will not find, when on business or vacation anywhere in the UK, disability legal protections equivalent to or better than laws applicable where they come from. The few laws or regulations that do apply are routinely ignored and there is no local or central or national authority to enforce them unless (a) the offences occurred in a public, not private place and (b) the local authority have the power and the will to enforce them vigorously. In nine cases out of 10 this is not possible and will not happen.

9. Council Taxes (property taxes exemptions are rare for elderly or disabled

Unlike in USA, Canada, Europe. etc. 

Beyond the UK, property tax exemptions or heavy discounts for the disabled seniors, those over 65, are very common

There, they are applied uniformly and impartially when the disabled and/or elderly applicants can prove via appropriate documentation that they may qualify.

Their local authorities have long been offering routinely to their senior citizens over 65 mostly when earning under US$50,000 annually, the disabled of any age and military veterans. 

Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, and European countries have followed the US example. 

There, they either no longer charge their disabled or over 65 year old owner-residents any council-tax equivalent property taxes if below a certain taxable value.

Or they apply a generous discount of up to 50%. 

In stark contrast, most elderly in the UK who are home owners or renters get no Council Tax relief at all

However, there are two exceptions,

One exception is if disabled and/or elderly persons are earning a means-tested minimum income to qualify..

Or, if (a) disabled and (b) can qualify in one-band facilities requirements where they live.

See below for automatic property tax exemptions in USA.

 The table shows each state and how it applies property tax benefits to resident disabled military veterans who once served in the US Armed Forces:

US State

 Minimum Disability Requirement 

Alabama A disabled veteran in Alabama may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service and has a net annual income of $12,000 or less. Exemptions differ between the state and counties, click here for detailed information.
Alaska A disabled veteran in Alaska may receive a property tax exemption of up to the first $150,000 of the assessed value of his/her primary residence if the veteran is 50 percent or more disabled as a result of service. The exemption transfers to a surviving spouse if the veteran is deceased from a service connected cause.
Arizona A disabled veteran in Arizona may receive a property tax exemption of $3,000 on his/her primary residence if the total assessed value does not exceed $10,000.
Arkansas A disabled veteran in Arkansas may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is blind in one or both eyes, lost the use of one or more limbs or is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
California There are two categories for full property tax exemptions. Qualified veterans may receive a basic exemption if the assessed value does not exceed $100,000; or a low income exemption if the assessed value does not exceed $150,000 when the household income does not exceed $40,000. Both categories are for full property tax exemptions.
Colorado A disabled veteran in Colorado may receive a property tax exemption of 50 percent of the first $200,000 of the actual value of his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled. A property tax deferral exists for eligible veterans over the age of 65 and for active duty personnel.
Connecticut All eligible veterans in Connecticut may receive a property tax exemption of $1,500 from the total assessed value of his/her property if the veteran served at least 90 days of active duty during wartime and are honorably discharged. Veterans below a certain income level and/or disabled veterans are eligible for additional exemptions. Contact your municipality’s Tax Assessor for specific details.
Delaware There are currently no state-mandated property tax exemptions for disabled veterans in Delaware.
Florida A disabled veteran in Florida may receive a property tax exemption of $5,000 on any property he/she owns if 10 percent or more disabled from a result of service. If the veteran is 100% disabled as a result from service then he/she may receive a full property tax exemption.
Georgia A disabled veteran in Georgia may receive a property tax exemption of $60,000 or more on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled, depending on a fluctuating index rate set by the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The 2016 amount is $63,780; property in excess of this exemption remains taxable.
Hawaii A disabled veteran in Hawaii may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
Idaho A disabled veteran in Idaho may receive a property tax exemption up to $1,320 on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 10 percent or more disabled as a result of service and reported total income of $29,640 or less in 2016.
Illinois A qualified disabled veteran in Illinois with a disability of at least 30-50% will receive a $2,500 reduction in EAV; those with 50-70% can receive a $5,000 exemption; and those with 70% or more pay no property tax.
Indiana A disabled veteran in Indiana may receive a property tax exemption of up to $37,440 if the veteran served honorably during any period of wartime and is 100% disabled as a result from service, or is at least 62 years of age with at least a 10% service-connected disability.
Iowa A veteran in Iowa may receive a property tax exemption of $1,852 on his/her primary residence if the veteran served on active duty during a period of war or for a minimum of 18 months during peacetime. A disabled veteran in Iowa may receive a full property tax exemption if the veteran is 100% disabled as a result from service.
Kansas A disabled veteran or qualifying family member in Kansas may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 50 percent or more disabled as a result of service. The exemption amount is determined based on income.
Kentucky Homeowners 65 and older or totally disabled as determined by a government agency in Kentucky may receive a property tax exemption of up to$36,900 on his/her primary residence.
Louisiana A disabled veteran in Louisiana may receive a property tax exemption of up to the first $150,000 of the assessed value of his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
Maine A disabled veteran in Maine may receive a property tax exemption of up to $6,000 on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 62 years or older or is 100 percent disabled.
Maryland A disabled veteran in Maryland may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
Massachusetts A disabled veteran in Massachusetts may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if all qualifications are met. To qualify, one must be at least 10% disabled, must have lived in MA for 6 months prior to enlisting and have lived in the state for 5 consecutive years. An exemption of $400 may be received if the veteran is 10 percent or more disabled, a Purple Heart Recipient or Gold Star parent. A $750 exemption may be received if the veteran lost the use of one hand, one foot or one eye; $1,250 if the veteran lost the use of both hands, both feet or a combination of the two, or if the veteran is blind in both eyes as a result of service. A veteran may receive a $1,500 exemption if 100 percent disabled as a result of service. The MA Department of Revenue prepared a full overview of local exemptions.
Michigan A disabled veteran in Michigan may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service. The state also offers a homestead tax credit and property tax relief for active military personnel.
Minnesota A disabled veteran in Minnesota may receive a property tax exemption of up to $300,000 on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as result of service. Veterans with a disability rating of 70 percent or more may receive an exemption of up to $150,000. Surviving spouses of military personnel are eligile to receive a $300,000 exclusion.
Mississippi A disabled veteran in Mississippi may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the assessed value is $7,500 or less and the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
Missouri A disabled veteran in Missouri may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is a former Prisoner of War and is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
Montana A disabled veteran in Montana may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service. The exemption amount varies based on income and marital status, as determined by the Montana Department of Revenue.
Nebraska A disabled veteran in Nebraska may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100% disabled as a result of wartime service.
Nevada A disabled veteran in Nevada may receive a property tax exemption of up to $20,000 of the assessed value of his/her primary residence if the veteran is 60 percent or more disabled as a result of service.
New Hampshire A disabled veteran in New Hampshire may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled, has lost two or more limbs or is blind in both eyes as a result of service. A disabled veteran that is 100 percent disabled may receive a tax credit of $700.
New Jersey A disabled veteran in New Jersey may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of wartime service.
New Mexico A disabled veteran in New Mexico may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of wartime service. Any veteran may qualify for a $4,000 reduction if the veteran served a minimum of 90 days consecutive active duty and was honorably discharged.
New York A disabled veteran in New York may receive one of three different property tax exemptions on his/her primary residence. The exemption amount varies based on type of service, disability as determined by the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs and the value of the exemption as determined by the county or municipality.
North Carolina A disabled veteran in North Carolina may receive a property tax exemption of up to the first $45,000 of the appraised value of his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
North Dakota A paraplegic disabled veteran in North Dakota may receive a property tax exemption for the first $120,000 on his/her primary residence or if the veteran has been awarded specially adapted housing. A disabled veteran with a rating of 50% or greater may receive an exemption against the first $6,750 of the taxable valuation.
Ohio A disabled veteran in Ohio may receive a property tax exemption up to $50,000 of the market value on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
Oklahoma A disabled veteran in Oklahoma may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service. The Oklahoma 100% Veteran Disability Tax Exemption applies to sales tax, excise tax and ad valorem tax.
Oregon A disabled veteran or surviving spouse in Oregon may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 40 percent or more disabled as a result of service. The exemption amount varies annually according to income and increases by 3% each year. The 2016 exemption amounts are $20,158 or $24,191.
Pennsylvania A disabled veteran in Pennsylvania may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of wartime service. To be eligible a veteran must prove financial need, which according to the state is income less than $87,212. Veterans whose income exceeds that value may still be eligible.
Rhode Island A disabled veteran in Rhode Island may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence. The exemption amount varies based on county, the value of the property and the exemption category that the veteran qualifies for. There are seven categories: Veterans’ regular exemption, Unmarried Widow of Qualified Veteran, Totally Disabled Veteran, Partially Disabled Veteran, Gold Star Parents’ exemption, Prisoner of War exemption and Specially Adapted Housing exemption.
South Carolina A disabled veteran in South Carolina may receive a full property tax exemption if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service. The disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs must include one of the following conditions: paraplegia, hemiplegia or quadriplegia, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). A Homestead exemption is available for all persons over 65 and/or totally and permanently disabled.
South Dakota A disabled veteran in South Dakota may receive a property tax exemption of up to $100,000 on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service. Paraplegic veterans may receive a full propery tax exemption.
Tennessee A disabled veteran in Tennessee may receive a property tax exemption on the first $100,000 of his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled and has lost the use of two or more limbs or is blind in both eyes as a result of service. The exemption amount varies by county.
Texas A totally disabled veteran in Texas may receive a full property tax exemption if the veteran receives 100% disability compensation from the VA and a rating of 100% disabled unemployability. Partially disabled veterans and those over the age of 65 may receive a property tax exemption based on their disability rating and age up to $12,000.
Utah A disabled veteran in Utah may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 10 percent or more disabled as a result of service. The maximum exemption amount available to qualified veterans is $253,264. Active duty armed forces personnel may receive a full property tax exemption if he/she is deployed out-of-state for military duty.
Vermont A disabled veteran in Vermont may receive a property tax exemption of at least $10,000 on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 50 percent or more disabled as a result of service. The exemption amount varies as each town votes on the amount. The maximum exemption amount allowed by the state is $40,000.
Virginia A disabled veteran in Virginia may receive a full property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service.
Washington A disabled veteran in Washington may receive a property tax exemption on his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service. The exemption amount is based on income, as determined by the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans with less than a 100% disability rating may receive a partial exemption.
West Virginia A 100 percent disabled veteran or any veteran over the age of 65 in West Virginia is exempt from paying taxes on the first $20,000 of assessed value on a self-occupied property if the veteran was a resident of the state at the time they enter military service.
Wisconsin A disabled veteran in Wisconsin may receive a property tax credit on their state income tax return for his/her primary residence if the veteran is 100 percent disabled as a result of service or has a 100 percent SCD rating. The veteran must have lived in WI when they entered into service or for a 5 year period after entering. The exemption amount varies.
Wyoming A veteran in Wyoming may receive a property tax exemption of $3,000 of the assessed value of his/her primary residence if the veteran has lived in the state for 3 or more years and served during a period of war. Disabled veterans are eligible for the same exemption.
District of Columbia A veteran must be over the age of 65 or disabled in order to qualify for a property tax exemption in the District of Columbia. The exemption reduces the veteran’s property tax by 50 percent. To qualify the veteran must own at least 50 percent of the property and annual income cannot exceed $100,000.

 

10. Disability Vehicle License plates for car operators are not issued in the UK

In the UK, unfortunately, there are no such disabled license plates. There are no signs at all on any cars that the driver or a passenger is disabled. Every state in the USA issues these. It means that wherever in the USA a disabled vehicle driver may be traveling in his or her vehicle, irrespective of in which state it is registered, it has a specific unique and current disabled registration. They also alert non-disabled drivers to take extra care. In all US states, an application from their disabled residents can cover both a disabled license plate and a parking tag (equivalent to a UK Disabled Parking card).

Arizona disabled license plate California disabled license plate  Missouri disabled license plate  Kentucky diisabled license plate  Arkansas disabled licence plate

A small sampling of US States with special vehicle licence plates for the registered disabled

11. Disability seating on UK public transport is not legally enforceable

Disability seating on busesProblems on buses

On a UK bus, some front seats are clearly signed to give priority seating to elderly, sight-impaired or blind, wheelchair-bound and mobility-restricted passengers

But this is often ignored, particularly when in the afternoons when regularly-scheduled buses stop near schools after 3 pm. 

Until recently, despite signage directed specifically to help wheel-chair bound passengers, mothers with infants in prams who occupy the wheelchair space can refuse to move. 

The driver was not able to order her to make way for the wheelchair-bound and the disabled had to wait for another bus. 

A Supreme Court hearing on this held on 18 January 2017 resulted in the wheelchair user winning his case. 

See https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/our-work/news/wheelchair-spaces-buses-must-be-priority-court-rules  

It was hoped this will lead to a requirement by the bus company to the driver to insist the pram user move or if not he will stop the bus until she does so. 

This recent court case resulted in only a partial victory for the disabled bus user. 

Why because the law still does not make it clear that a wheel chair user always has priority, the bus driver must ask the offending pram user to move and she must do so by law, as is required abroad.

Disabled on Eastbourne buses. How Stagecoach may be able to help, see https://www.stagecoachbus.com/help-and-contact/national/i-m-disabled-how-do-i-find-out-if-i-can-use-the-bus

train servicesProblems on trains

A similar sign now routinely appears on Britain's trains. 

But it is often ignored by able public transport users including mothers and fathers accompanying young children.  

Local disability groups should now be asking their local train companies if, given the recent Supreme Court ruling relating to wheelchairs on buses (see above) finally getting some priority, the presently non-enforceable Priority Seating referred to below should now be legislated as enforceable. 

Seats are not reserved, not even for the disabled with appropriate documentation, on any Southern Railway train

However, with adequate notice, Southern Rail will offer valuable assistance to the disabled. Getting on and off trains, especially those with large spaces between the train and platforms, can be very stressful for disabled passengers. Railway staff are often asked to help the disabled at initial, intermediate and final stations of each journey and this is appreciated.

Southern Railway Priority Seat Card Application. New disabled residents should get one, as persons disabled and/or elderly and mobility-impaired.

Southern Railway Priority Seat Card.  New disabled residents should get one, as persons disabled and/or elderly and mobility-impaired. On trains, there are disabled seats and also areas clearly marked specifically for the elderly and mobility-restricted as our graphic above shows. But these are frequently abused by non-elderly and not mobility-restricted passengers. Preferential seating is for those who need it, have particularly requested it on trains and in many cases have given adequate written proof to the rail companies concerned that they are entitled to it. But it is not legally enforced and many able passengers know it and may refuse without penalty to surrender their seats. In other countries, their disability laws make this legally enforceable and those who refuse are given often on-the-spot heavy fines for non-compliance.

Southern Railway Priority Seat Card Terms and Conditions. Each UK train company has a similar seat card for when issuing seat card Terms & Conditions policy. But they are not legally enforceable. A bureaucratic and complex process has to be invoked by any disabled train user deliberately and unfairly deprived of a disabled-friendly seat by disability-contemptuous passenger. 

But they are fully protected under the laws of other countries such as the USA, Canada, Europe, etc.

 

12. Disabled Rooms at Hotels, etc are not truly disabled by international standards

Their websites claim many have accessible rooms, the British and European way of saying they are for the disabled/physically handicapped/challenged. They may be by UK standards but rarely do they meet USA ADA-compliant requirements. Unfortunately, here in the UK, unlike in USA, Canada, Europe etc. visitors who are disabled/will need to confirm in advance directly with a hotel that it has the kind of  accessibility they need.

13. Disabled holidays access limitations information is not revealed

UK-based travel agents don't tell you, but should be required to, that if you are disabled in a wheelchair or using crutches or walking sticks or walkers (Zimmer frames) and/or are  otherwise in any way mobility-impaired, you will encounter some substantial difficulties both on and off your cruise ship (on shore excursions). Here are the main problems:

14. Disabled-friendly cruises hide accessibility on-land problems overseas

cruise shipSome disability-friendly holiday websites claim good disabled access on cruise ship holidays. But while readily available in Europe, they are definitely are not so in Bermuda, the Caribbean and many other exotic places. This author writes from personal experience.  In most ports of the Caribbean, disabled passengers in wheelchairs on cruise ships or traveling independently will not be able to go ashore and then take local mass transit (public transportation) buses or taxis or ferries. Only in the American ports of Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands where the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies will the latter be routinely available.

Do disabled cabins on board have adequate door width for wheelchair access. Is the furniture lowered? Do their bathrooms have grab rails? Are the toilet seats raised? Are there shower stools and wet rooms?

Are there wheelchair or scooter rental on board (generally, no).

Or can you take your own wheelchair or scooter and if so can the latter also be used in ports you are visiting? Possibly, but if you can be aware that you may not be able to get them on ship's tenders if such vessels are necessary and the ship cannot moor alongside.

Are Guide dogs allowed on board? If they are, be aware that in a foreign port they may need special permission before they can disembark. 

Are Hoists available on board? If so, where? If not, you may have to take one, if allowed.

Are Mobility aids available?

Is Braille available for the blind?

Are there facilities for deaf or hard-of-hearing aboard and in foreign ports?

Cruise ships sailing to and from from US ports are required by US laws have between 15 and 25 disabled cabins and staterooms, and to make them more roomy than for the non-disabled. cruise lines. In the USA, they are required by ADA regulations to ensure allow persons who are not disabled do not occupy staterooms intended solely for the disabled and their caregivers or carers. (Disabled persons, if denied a cabin specifically for the disabled, under American laws have specific legal remedies if such cabins are instead given by cruise ship operators to persons not officially registered as disabled and don't have appropriate disability and ID documentation to prove it). No such regulations apply under UK law.

River cruising

(Also from the personal experiences of this disabled author and wife).

While river cruising is an easy and wonderful but not-cheap way to see lots of places, it is not ideal for any disabled or other passengers with mobility problems, for several important reasons. Most river boats do not have cabin and bathroom doors adapted (made extra-wide to allow access) for wheelchair users and some don't have lifts (elevators). If they do, the lifts may not go to all levels. Circular staircases lead to the least expensive cabins and are unable to be accessed by wheelchairs. Mobility scooters on board are neither possible nor practical. Getting on and off the vessel, especially for those with a balance problem, may be difficult. There are often steps up and down to the docks. Sightseeing in old towns with cobbled streets may be a problem. Not all places you visit will be wheel-chair friendly. Buses you take for shore excursions probably won't be.

For elderly, disabled or mobility-impaired passengers on riverboats there can be other hazards, again of the types not found on ocean-going cruise ships all of which have elevators going up and down to all floors.  Some riverside towns and cities have only a limited number of riverboat moorings. As a result, riverboats often have to go alongside each other. With their different lengths, sizes and gangplank placements, it is not an easy matter to negotiate them to get ashore, especially for the elderly and disabled or the mobility-restricted. Your riverboat cruise staff will ask you to go outside the ship, climb up the narrow staircase, go to the other side of the ship, go down that side’s narrow staircase, then cross over to another ship and do the same again. This poses unacceptable risks and dangers to the disabled, mobility-impaired and elderly passengers on riverboats.  

15.  Eastbourne & other theatres disability accessibility not enforced by law

In Eastbourne see Congress Theatre, Devonshire Park Theatre, Winter Garden.

 Disabled visitors and newcomers planning to attend a performance should first discuss their needs and any special requirements with the Box Office staff when booking tickets. They will try to ensure disabled theatre-goers are offered the most appropriate seats. The Congress Theatre offers an additional service for any group bookings i.e. residential homes, schools etc. who would benefit from arriving early. Please contact the theatre at 01323 415528  in advance to arrange for a Support Usher to welcome the group before everyone else. Leave a message for the Duty Manager who will make contact as soon as possible. At the Devonshire Park Theatre, entrance for wheelchairs users is to the right of the building. Please make yourself known to a member of the front of house team who will escort theatre-goers to this entrance. For ease of access, if entering the building through this door, it is suggested disabled visitors and their essential companions if also present purchase their tickets on this side of the auditorium, for seats number 1 onwards. There is also an Essential Companion scheme. Application forms are available from box office by calling 01323 412000 or by downloading the Essential Companion Scheme Application Form.

Facilities available include:
• Wheelchair accessible toilet
• Blue Badge parking (three or more spaces, not unlimited) near to venues
• Infrared Hearing System (Congress and Devonshire Park Theatre)
• Induction Loop System (Winter Garden and Devonshire Park Theatre)
• Patron Lift (Congress Theatre and Winter Garden)
• Guide Dogs welcome
• Orientation tours available on request
• Brochures available in audio format, request copy from box office on 01323 412000.
• Audio Description provided at the Devonshire Park Theatre by the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre. Available Friday evenings and Saturday matinees of week-long productions.

 

16. Eastbourne does not offer free multi-floor parking to disabled

Unlike in most European and North American cities and towns. Eastbourne, despite boasting it is disabled-friendly in so many ways is in fact a disability-unfriendly town. .For well over two years, since 2016, more than any other town in the UK, its pavements have been terrible, uneven, patched, dangerous to walk on for the mobility-impaired using sticks or crutches or to ride on in wheelchairs. It is totally unlike towns in the European Union, Canada, USA, etc. where free disabled parking is routinely offered in their city or town centre multi-storey parking centres.  In sad contrast, no such facilities exist in Eastbourne. Its few multi-floor parking areas have disabled parking spaces with a sign saying they are for the disabled only but do not offer discounts or free parking for disabled drivers. They are often abused without penalty by non-disabled drivers without disabled parking rights. Why? Because such facilities are deemed a private facility under UK law so are not regulated for disabled parking spaces. On the public road along the ocean front of the town are some free disabled parking spaces but these are also regularly abused by both locals and visitors. Shopping centres within the town boundary have lots of spaces for free disabled parking within a 3 hour time limit but when this disabled author did s spot check at Sovereign Village, 55% of the 100 or so spaces were being used by vehicles with no disabled parking permits. It is estimated that Eastbourne Borough Council, by failing to book miscreants, is losing about £650,000 in revenue in 2019 alone. 

17. Eastbourne Police and Councils will not act to protect disabled from cyclists

Cyclist deliberately ignoring no-cycling signDespite a definitive statement on its website that protecting the vulnerable - including all who are disabled - is a priority, East Sussex police will not enforce council byelaws to stop cyclists from cycling on the Eastbourne Borough Council byelaw-mandated no-cycling part of the Eastbourne Promenade.  

Pensioners and disabled or frail and their carers use that particular part of the promenade not because it is central to the town - which it is - but especially because it is flat and wide and because of the latter they can walk in safety with their carers at their side to give them physical and other support. 

Eastbourne is the only seafront town in the UK with such a downtown part-cycle-free area. That byelaw dates from 2006 and was established primarily because Eastbourne as a seaside town has the highest number of elderly over 65 to 95, frail and disabled in the entire country. 

12% of the population is aged over 75 years, compared to 8% regionally and nationally. The county ranks highest of all the counties in England for the percentage of 85 and 90 year olds .

 However, cycling is permitted on further-away parts of the Eastbourne promenade. 

At a meeting of the Eastbourne Borough Council's Disability Disability Involvement Group (EDIG) held on 4 December 2019 it was reported that from a police perspective the police are not looking to pursue penalties to cyclists. “Current practice is to ask cyclists to dismount. It is not a priority for police.”  It is astonishing that since 2006 when the Eastbourne Borough Council byelaw was made enforceable there have been NO prosecutions despite many flagrant violations as shown in the photo above that clearly states "no cycling.". The council, because it has not been supported to do so by the police, has thus allowed violators galore, especially in the summer, to escape the £100 fine. Councils must see that the law is enforced and members of the public expect the police to act. Until then, disabled and elderly visitors be warned that this situation confirms that Eastbourne is NOT an Age-Friendly place. More will be following shortly about this.

Age-Friendly places will:

18. Eastbourne Pavement and dropped kerb Parking abuses affect the disabled

Alone in the disabled world, Eastbourne and the rest of the UK stand out for the chronic lack of action in prosecuting drivers of cars who park on pavements (sidewalks) or on dropped kerbs or both, thereby preventing blind or deaf or other disabled persons accompanied by their carers or spouses and those riding mobility vehicles to walk or ride in safety on the pavements and cross the road via a dropped kerb. Those offending cars and other vehicles impede or block the way and force those affected to cross the road in a more dangerous manner, to face danger from busy road traffic in both directions. 

There should be a single nationwide policy in this matter stating such offensive parking is actionable. Instead, every council seems to have a different policy with no action taken. Eastbourne is a major offender, including in Sovereign Harbour where reports about pavements blocked by offending cars have been sent to both the Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council by the disabled using mobility vehicles, including this author and his wife, but with no action taken. Making it even worse is when offending vehicles and others parked directly or nearly opposite them block and so do not allow bigger and wider ambulances, fire engines and other emergency vehicles to pass through. Photos of offending cars, vans and trucks showing their registration numbers and when the photo was taken will soon be appearing on this and other local, regional, national and international disability websites.

19. Police must act to protect the disabled

Major Improvements are needed in The Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales. The police don't act to stop any anti-disabled abuses as explained in section 18 above and nor will they act in any other disabled-particular matter, such as in disabled-only parking space abuses in both council owned or street and private shopping mall car parks, or cars parked on pavements or dropped kerbs, unlike their European and North American counterparts who will in all these cases. 

Yes, in many respects the British Police are regarded as a model to the world, but in the particular ways described above they also have a terrible reputation, unfortunately also followed not only in the U.K. but also in other British Police Services in the British Overseas Territories (BOTs)  such as Bermuda, according to very recent and earlier press reports going back many years such as in Bermuda’s daily newspaper The Royal Gazette. Why is this? Because, unlike in Europe, Canada and USA, etc where the police are deemed to be law enforcement officers and do so, in Britain and  the BOTs they seem to be and act as mere community officers and will not assist in prosecuting those who mistreat the disabled. (This disabled elderly journalist author has seen this for himself when he worked in Bermuda and the USA. He has noted how in Bermuda the Bermuda Police Service declines to help the disabled in parking violations of the non-disabled, citing the UK Police as their example and in the USA. particularly in some of the post popular areas of the USA for UK visitors, namely Miami in Florida, Boston in Massachusetts and New York where principle convicted offenders in their courts for disabled parking violations by the non-disabled, because the police are involved, are Brits who say plaintively that the police do not charge them in the UK so they don't see why they should be prosecuted in the USA. It is not only not accepted as a valid excuse it has also become a standing joke in the USA that hurts the reputation of the British Police). 

In the matter of dropped kerb abuses at the end of your driveway (which in most local authorities - planning laws say must be provided), the Traffic Management Act 2004 applies. This act covers restrictions on parking where a kerb has been dropped for a number of reasons including for the purpose of "assisting vehicles entering or leaving the carriageway across the footway, cycle track or verge".  Exceptions to this include where a vehicle is parked outside residential premises "by or with the consent (but not consent given for reward) of the occupier of the premises" but this exception does not apply in the case of a shared driveway; emergency vehicles; when a vehicle is being used for the purposes of delivering goods/unloading etc at the premises (has to be 'reasonable' and for no longer than 20 minutes); and vehicles undertaking any building, signing, utilities or sewer works or collecting waste on behalf of local authority, removing a traffic obstruction. If you think you could have a case under this piece of legislation,  complainants should first try to find and speak to the vehicle owner. In a friendly and polite manner, tell them about the act and that you'd like to get your vehicle out. If they refuse, call the police on 101 - not 999 (it's more than likely NOT an emergency and if it is, the vehicle owner will probably cooperate with you anyhow). Tell them about the problem, how long the vehicle has been there and that you need to get your car out. If they say there's nothing they can do, refer them to the Traffic Management act of 2004 (as it relates to dropped kerbs) and what the normal steps are. The police should be able to help you to take the right steps even if they won't do anything themselves immediately.

We who are disabled, frail and elderly, not only in Eastbourne but throughout the country, now request that the Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales include this complaint and accept our recommendations. Why? Because we want to see the image of British Police exceed in every way the standards of police in North America and Europe, not continue to be inferior to them in what they do for the disabled, elderly and frail and in not dealing with other major social problems concerning the latter in particular. We will be so pleased if the changes contemplated can achieve. 

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Disabled assistance at British Airports, very good but often misused

airport disabled assistanceA nice feature, handled very well by kind and sympathetic handlers at all UK and many overseas airports. Incredibly useful to the genuinely disabled, thanks mostly to European not UK disability laws. 

Most large UK airports now have special seating areas clearly marked for disabled-only. 

Unfortunately, because they are not completely blocked off from the general public, the disabled area at London Gatwick's North and South Terminals are taken advantage of by many non-disabled, some of whom wander into the disabled area to view the flight departure signs or to recharge their mobile phones or laptops or tablets or just to sit in more peace and quiet than on the non-disabled seating areas. 

Other misuse by the non-disabled is most obviously from Caribbean nationals flying back home, laden down with parcels but not needing airline passenger special assistance in other ways. It ought to be a legal requirement that only passengers who have specifically asked for such assistance, are given and wear the appropriate flashing cord around wear neck for when they are collected as when their flight is announced, should be allowed to sit there.

Sovereign Harbour accessibility 

Mobility scooter and wheelchair access. Four out of five Sovereign Harbours are flat, scenic and accessible for mobility scooter and wheelchair access for the disabled, not via the public Atlantic Drive and Pacific Drive roads but via their flat scenic brick pathways (walkways) immediately adjacent to their harbours. The fifth, Sovereign Harbour North, is similarly accessible for its entire length on the south side and some of its length on the north side. For new disabled residents and visitors it is possible, if their disability vehicles have good batteries, to travel the entire two-mile coastal route between Eastbourne town centre and the Sovereign Harbour complex.

Sovereign Harbour Disabled Parking concerns

Presently, in the Sovereign Harbour retail areas, Disabled Parking Spaces available are at the ASDA/Crumbles retail centre (about 60 in total) and the Waterfront car park (20).. At ASDA/The Crumbles most of these spaces are close to shops, At  the Waterfront complex, all 20 Disabled Parking spaces, despite being on the western end, closest to restaurants, shops and services are at least 150 yards away from them. But every day, people galore who are not disabled and/or don't show their Disabled Parking badges park in those disabled parking spaces without any action being taken to fine them.

In the residential areas, the complete lack of properly signed and appropriately bordered legally unenforceable disabled parking nearly everywhere is a major problem to all the residents who are disabled among its 7,500 residents. The complete lack of any disabled parking spaces at any of the units of flats in the Sovereign Harbour area in their below-building or adjacent parking areas is one major problem. Another is that some cars are parked so badly that they impede and slow or halt the progress of emergency vehicles to aid the disabled. This lack of residential disabled parking was never addressed in the Sovereign Harbour Supplementary Planning Document of February 2013. Nowhere in its content does it mention the need for disabled parking areas for disabled residents, or the fact that the latter, because of their disability, need wider parking spaces than the norm. The obligations of individual developers to provide not only adequately sized and enough parking spaces for the able-bodied but sufficient wider international-standard Disabled Parking spaces as well for the registered disabled, is not specified. And also, developers have not kept up with the times. With only a very few exceptions, the vast majority of the 2-5 bedroom apartments and flats offer only one parking space, not one for each bedroom as is the norm now in apartment buildings beyond the UK. Thus many buildings are now occupied by people with two cars per household, with one car occupying a space normally reserved for visitors but instead taken.

When The Waterfront complex describes Sovereign Harbour in which it is located as "Eastbourne's international experience" and the entire harbour area has street and quay names from prominent places around the world, that "international experience" cachet should surely be followed by developers in creating parking and disabled parking to international standards in residential areas. This should be a requirement of the planning departments of local-authority councils instead of it being left solely to developers because their developments are not on public property. It has long been required and legislated internationally by planning departments of local authorities that these provisions be enacted on both public and private properties.

Links to relevant organisations

 

Benefits for sick or disabled. See https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/benefits-for-people-who-are-sick-or-disabled/
Cinema free tickets for carers.  Cinema Exhibitors' Association Card
Citizens Advice, Eastbourne. See http://www.eastbournecab.co.uk/
Concessionary Travel for disabled and over 60s. See https://www.stagecoachbus.com/promos-and-offers/national/concessionary-travel
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at United Nations. See https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html 
Disability Discrimination - what it means.  See https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/disability-discrimination 
Disability Hate Crimes. See https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/hate-crime/disability-hate-crime/
Disability Unit. https://disabilityunit.blog.gov.uk. Part of UK's Cabinet Office. Replaced Office for Disability Issues. 
Disabled VAT exemption for certain items or work. VAT relief for Disabled People. See https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/vat-reliefs-for-disabled-and-older-people for what qualifies and what does not. Be sure to ask if the supplier will offer VAT-free billing if the item qualifies. when merited.
Discrimination Law Association (DLA). Membership is open to any lawyer, legal or advice worker or other person substantially engaged or interested in discrimination law and any organisation, firm, company or other body engaged or interested in discrimination law. See www.discriminationlaw.org.uk 
Eastbourne Seniors Forum. See http://www.esf-online.org/index.html
EU Disability Card. See http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1139
European Disability Policies and their Coordination. See https://rm.coe.int/16800cde11
Guide to Disability Laws in USA. See https://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm
Motability. A very good service for the disabled, thousands of whom with the Disability Living Allowance at the Higher Rate or its PIP equivalent can lease a car or mobility scooter or electric wheelchair for three years using some or all of their mobility allowance and, if they want luxury cars, or those with the latest diving technology, a one-time extra cost.   
RADAR (NKS) keys. So-called because they originated with the now-defunct Royal Association of Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) organisation. It is a large silver-coloured key that opens more than 10,000 locked disabled wide-entrance  toilets in the UK. The key is part of the National Key Scheme. It was designed to give thousands of people with disabilities and health conditions independent access to locked public toilets throughout the UK. But because it has never been authorised for use only by the registered disabled, and can be bought for about £5  by people who are not registered as severely disabled it has been abused by people not so registered who use it purely for convenience and also by parents of young children, or for drug use or those - male-female. male-male, female-female, having sex. Genuinely disabled people needing a toilet in a hurry often have a long, not always successful, wait before such a toilet becomes available. However, it is better than nothing. for the disabled who remember to bring their keys in hospitals, shopping centres, etc.

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