Thanks for your help on this, both here and on MSE. To bring people here up to date with what happened next I used the information gratefully received to write the following letter to Sainsburys:
Many thanks for your note. Apologies for the delay in replying - we've been on holiday and I also needed to double-check some facts, being somewhat surprised by your response. Please can you ensure that this correspondence is copied to your legal department and anybody who deals with risk management in your organisation? Reasons for that will become apparent later on.
Taking your responses in turn:
"We have received a reply from our internal team"
Was this a team with legal knowledge or one that just creates policies? Unfortunately Sainsburys has run into trouble in the past with this. A prime example was when the High Wycombe store opened and Sainsburys put up notices saying that they would "fine" anybody using a disabled or parent/child bay without meeting the requirements £50. As fines can only be issued by courts, police or local councils this policy was a clear breach of the 2006 Fraud Act (Section 2).
"...which is in line with DFT guidance"
The DFT is quite specific on how the Blue Badge schem operates on private land. It does not apply at all. Refer to Page 6 of the Blue Badge Handbook at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/syste...nsibilities.pdf
which states "However, the badge is intended for on-street parking only. Off-street car parks, such as those provided in local authority, hospital or supermarket car parks are governed by separate rules."
There is no DFT guidance whatsoever which applies here.
" If you are registered disabled, you are entitled to a blue badge."
Firstly, what do you mean by "registered disabled"? There is no "register" of disabled people. What applies here is teh definition of disability under the 2010 Equality Act. Fortunately this is quite simple and is stated at https://www.gov.uk/definition-of-disability...uality-act-2010
. This bears no relationship at all to Blue Badge entitlement (not that that should apply anyway).
You are effectively saying that people with cancer, ME, learning difficulties, visual impairment etc. are 'not as disabled' as those with a Blue Badge. The Equality Act 2010 does not discriminate like that and a retailer breaks the law if they do.
"...you are welcome to use a parent and child bay."
Unfortunately this is also not true. We tried. I had a copy of your previous note on me so felt able to ignore the big sign that said that anybody using one of the P/C bays without a child under the age of 12 would face a charge of £60. However, what we could not ignore was the abuse received from other shoppers who felt that we were "just being lazy" (and worse). My wife was almost in tears after that experience.
So "welcome"? Definitely not.It's also a clear case of one disabled person be treated less favourably than another.
On that point it could be argued therefore, that there is DIRECT DISCRIMINATION against disabled people because you are not treating them as favourably as other visitors allowed to use special bays. If you can leave family cars showing any sign of a 'child on board' alone in P/C bays then you can leave cars alone which are in (legally important) disabled bays, and displaying any sign of disability (such as an obviously disabled person struggling to get out of the car and exhibiting severe difficulty in walking).
In conclusion, I need a reply to the following questions within fourteen days from your "internal" or legal team:
i) Does Sainsbury recognise the Equality Act 2010?
ii) Does Sainsbury recognise disability as defined in the Equality Act 2010?
iii) Does Sainsbury operate a policy/policies that treat people who are defined as disabled accordingly to the Equality Act 2010 different to those who are members of the Blue Badge scheme?
Thank you for your email and for your patience while our team investigated your query. We appreciate your concerns regarding our response and we have passed your comments to our communications team.
Our team has investigated and can confirm that the signs at our Corey’s Mill store have not changed and have been in place for some time. In order to ensure that we make disabled spaces available for those who need them, we do apply the blue badge policy across all our car parks.
We enforce misuse of disabled bays by issuing anyone who parks in a disabled parking bay without displaying a valid blue badge with a £60 parking charge notice. We feel that that this approach is fair and consistent with other private car parks across the country.
If a customer does not qualify for a blue badge and needs a wider parking bay closer to the store they are welcome to use one of our parent and child bays. They should however notify the customer services desk so that we can inform our parking attendants.
We appreciate you taking the time to contact us. We hope this information has been helpful and we hope to see you in store again soon.
Christine Cruikshank | Customer Manager
So, that seems to be the end of it. You MUST have a Blue Badge and the Equality Act doesn't come in to it at all.