Bosses at Hartlepool Marina are under fire for letting a pub use disabled parking spaces for outdoor seating.
Managers at the The Compass Rose say they have obtained three out of 11 parking spaces from marina owners, Mandale Group, to use for outdoor seating.
Martin Slimings, 65, from Truro Drive, was taking his elderly mother Audrey Slimings to her favourite cafe at the marina earlier when he found the disabled bays he regularly parks in has been made into an outdoor seating area.
Mr Slimings, whose mother is 92 and visits the cafe in the marina every week, said he always parks in the bays outside of pub because it is closest to the cafe.
On his last visit he was forced to park further away after the bays were blocked by tables and chairs - meaning his mother had to walk further. He said: “I understand that it is a good business opportunity, but it was 10am in the morning when I was down there.
“The pub wasn’t even open, but because of the benches there we had to park further away.
“I understand that the marina has more than the required amount of disabled bays, but not all of them are located close enough to the places that disabled people may want to go.
“I am sure it is all above board, but I feel like disabled and vulnerable people in society are thought about last.”
When The Compass Rose was contacted for comment a spokesman said Mandale Group, had sold the spaces to businesses to use as seated areas - something Mandale disputes. The firm says it is not selling any bays.
A spokesman for The Compass Rose said: “Mandale made us an offer to see if any business wanted to buy some of the disabled bays, so we have bought three and are in the process of turning it in to an outdoor seating area.”
Joe Darragh, estates director at Mandale, said the firm was looking to improve the outdoor seating area and added that, out of the 11 disabled bays provided, only three have been used for outdoor seating.
He said: “We are aware that some premises have been putting tables and chairs in the disabled bays in the car park to make the most of the summer weather, but there is still access to disabled bays. “We don’t want anybody upset, so we are going to provide a better facility there to improve it for everybody.
“We will be doing is creating new disabled parking area after that all the car parking across the front of Navigation Point is removed and seating areas created.”