- Oct 11, 2006
Top Gear has been slammed by disability campaigners after presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May parked in disabled parking bays during a feature on electric cars on Sunday night's show.
The pair were trying out electric cars and were driving them to Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, when they pulled over into a car park to discuss the merits of the motors.
But rather than parking in normal parking bays, the pair pulled up in spaces reserved for disabled people - causing a storm of protest from disabled motoring groups who said it was 'typical' of Clarkson.
To add fuel to the fire, just after the slot about electric cars, Richard Hammond met a team of disabled soldiers who had been severely injured in Afghanistan.
The disabled soldiers - some who had lost three limbs - were shown laughing and joking with Hammond as they took part in a cross-country racing in 4x4 cars as they prepare for the grueling Dakar Rally.
During the slot about electric cars, Jeremy Clarkson - driving a ?31,000 Nissan Leaf - and James May - driving a ?33,000 Peugeot iOn - discussed the merits of non-petrol cars, asking 'should you buy an electric car?'.
After parking up in the disabled bays the pair laughed and joked about the costs of the cars and the electric motors - which are capable of a top speed of up to 90mph.
They also joked about the luggage space and how electric cars had to be fitted with special windscreen wipers which make barely any noise.
But it was as they stepped out of their cars - with Clarkson and May even standing on top of a disabled road marking that shocked viewers realised they had parked in disabled bays.
Jim Rawlings, of Disabled Motoring UK, said he was sure that Clarkson 'wouldn't have cared' about parking up in a disabled bay.
He said: "I'm sure the last thing on Jeremy Clarkson's mind was that he was parked in a disabled bay.
"The abuse of non-disabled people parking in disabled bays is rife, and with people like Jeremy Clarkson and James May doing this other motorists will just think they can just park wherever they like.
"People who are patently not disabled, like Clarkson and May, obviously didn't have a passing care that a disabled person might have needed those spaces.
"I'm sure Jeremy Clarkson especially would not feel contrite about parking in a disabled bay - it shows a lack of feeling and care and a total lack of compassion."
Peter Lyne, of the Disabled Motorists Foundation, said it was 'extremely frustrating' watching non-disabled people park in disabled parking bays.
He said: "It's an immense problem and is an extremely frustrating issue which is not helped by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and James May."
Viewer Adam Sullivan, 32, said: "I was disgusted to see them parking up in a disabled bays.
"The pair of them were even standing about on the disability road markings and they didn't even notice it.
"For them to be so casual about it is disgusting and they should be hauled over the coals - along with the entire production team - for doing something which in the end, will encourage viewers to think there is nothing wrong with parking in disabled bays."