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Disabled parking bays blocked in secluded area of Epping Forest in Buckhurst Hill
Walkers say efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in Epping Forest unfairly penalise disabled people.
Measures to prevent drug taking and anti-social behaviour at Lords Bushes and Knighton Wood car park in Buckhurst Hill include the installation of six large concrete blocks to stop access to a hotspot for problems.
But the blocks also prevent the use of two disabled parking bays.
The City of London Corporation has defended the temporary measure, but a number of people who spoke to the Guardian at the site yesterday were critical of the move.
Maureen Merlini, 65, of Trent Road in Buckhurst Hill, said: “This path through the forest was made for disabled people.
“In the summer young kids with disabilities come up and go fishing and enjoy the forest. By blocking them spaces they are taking away this facility.
“We cannot see how those blocks will stop anti-social behaviour anyway, they just give people something to hide behind.”
Judy Goold, of Worcester Crescent in Woodford Green, has been walking her dog in the forest for ten years.
The 79-year-old said: “I have been walking my dog here since my husband died. It has been another life for me coming down here.
“I have made all these friends. If it puts people off of coming down here then I shall be very upset actually.”
Richard Brown, 64, believes complaints from people living near the site probably prompted the move.
He said: “We can sympathise with people living here but more sensible steps could be taken.
“A light or CCTV cameras would be far more appropriate.
“The forest was freed for the recreation and enjoyment of the people.
“There is a disabled path here so there must be a disabled parking facility.”
A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said the blocks have been used to restrict access to a secluded area which attracted crime.
He said: “The area which is blocked off was hidden from view from the road and an anti-social behaviour hot-spot.
“This is a temporary measure whilst we install a barrier and improve the fencing to make the area safer.
“We have now installed the barrier and are addressing the fencing issue and will be removing the concrete blocks as soon as possible.”
“This has been effective in reducing anti–social behaviour, but we apologise for any inconvenience for Epping Forest users whilst we address this issue.”
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