09:50AM, Thursday 16 June 2022
The Royal Borough has issued an apology to the father of an eight-year-old with disabilities after he had a run-in with the borough’s community wardens.
Matt Cottrell lives in Hare Shoots. His daughter, Ella, is in leg braces following a course of chemotherapy that weakened her legs.
As such, the family have their own registered disabled parking bay in the car park at Hare Shoots.
In order to stop others from wrongly taking the spot, the family puts a traffic cone over the bay, should they take the car out for a few hours.
They have been doing this for the past year and a half, finding that – despite letters from Housing Solutions requesting neighbours to be more considerate – people continue to park in the disabled spot.
However, on May 25, Matt was warned by Royal Borough community wardens that it was ‘an offence’ to put the traffic cone in the bay, as it is a ‘public highway’ not private property.
He was told by a senior community warden that if a borough officer finds the cone in the highway, it would be removed.
But this contradicts messages Matt received from the Royal Borough’s own parking and enforcement manager, Neil Walter, who said he had ‘no problem’ with the cone being there.
Mr Walter said Matt had his permission to put the cone in the bay.
Matt told the Advertiser he had also received reassurances from two police officers who supported his use of the cone in the parking spot.
Yet, on Thursday (June 9), the family took a trip to Wexham Park Hospital and arrived home to discover the cone had been removed.
Matt contacted the warden team to insist that the traffic cone was returned to him but was told that taking it was ‘supported by all partners’ at a multi-agency meeting.
“It doesn’t make sense – it’s not on the road, so it’s not blocking the highway,” said Matt. “I want an apology to my daughter. She gets really upset when people cause issues for her.”
Matt has a replacement cone but doesn’t want to risk further removals. It could create difficulty if someone poaches the parking spot.
“I’ve got medical issues myself and so has my wife,” he said.
“We can’t pick Ella up and bundle her to our address.”
On Wednesday, the Royal Borough council apologised in a statement.
A spokesman said: “On this occasion, the cone was originally removed under the Highways Act 1980 which states that no items should be placed on the highway without the permission of the Local Highway Authority.
“However, upon further investigation, it emerged that the resident had been given permission for the cone to be placed within their disabled parking bay.
“We would like to apologise to him for any inconvenience this may have caused and the cone will be returned to him this week.”
The traffic cone was returned to the family yesterday afternoon (June 15).
Paramedics were called to the scene of a medical emergency in Maidenhead on Monday morning (June 27).
All lines are currently blocked between Reading and London Paddington stations due to a person being hit by a train.