We had arrived in Bruxelles on the evening of Tuesday October 21st and parked outside our hotel, Marriott’s Aloft Schuman, Place Jean Rey, Brussels. I am a wheelchair user, travelling to meetings in Brussels with my husband as an assistant and we drive a Citroen Jumper handicap van. The van has a clearly visible disability blue badge card and a wheelchair ramp. The van is too tall to park in the hotels parking garage, so we parked on the public parking outside the hotel.
I went to meetings in the Charlemagne building om Wednesday and Thursday, but when we returned to the hotel Thursday afternoon we found the van missing.
After talking to some nearby police we discovered that the van had been removed and that some do-not-park signs had been placed after we had parked the car. With the assistance of the hotel manager my husband discovered which police station to go to.
The police station, Commissariat d’Ixelles, Politiezone Brussel-Elsene was difficult to get to in a wheelchair, so it took some time to get there and when we arrived we discovered that the police station was not accessible for a wheelchair, so I had to wait outside in the cold and rain for almost and hour before we was able to get the proper paperwork. The police told us to pick up the car in a depot far away, and when I said it was not possible for me as there are very few wheelchair accessible taxis in Brussels, they arranged the papers so my husband could pick it up.
Due to the distance to get to the police station and the cold, my wheelchair had almost run out of battery at that point, but the police officer told that he could not help, I would just have to wait outside until my husband could pick me up.
As that option would have left me very sick for sure, as I was already ice-cold, we instead made it back to the hotel, with two stops along the way to charge the wheelchair battery. The next morning my husband went to the depot and paid the fine.
It was a very disheartening experience, besides the cost, as a wheelchair user I am very dependent on my wheelchair van and I was very shocked for the lack of consideration and the lack of assistance given.
I do not understand why a van clearly identified as a disability/handicap van is removed, especially as it was outside the EU summit barricade and at no point during the summit was the spot we had parked in occupied by a police vehicle or any other type of vehicle.
And if it had to be removed I think there should be a disability consideration in the retrieval process, if I had not travelled with my husband or another assistant I don’t know how I could have managed.
And when I am forced to go to the police station, I think that it is discriminatory that I am not able told enter the police station myself and it is a big problem that I was denied any form of help or special consideration, due to my disability. I was so cold when I finally got back to the hotel that I was surprised that I did not get a severe cold or pneumonia.