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Claims end of free Craven disabled parking could clog up roads
Disabled drivers will have to pay to park in Craven District Council car parks.
Since April last year, only designated blue badge parking spaces were free for disabled drivers for up to three hours.
But now, the council has decided to charge for all designated spaces, bringing blue badge holders into line with all other users of its car parks.
The council says it will end confusion and will make the system fairer by charging all blue badge holders irrespective of where they park.
It adds that faced with having to make savings – or introduce new revenue streams – it can no longer justify continued free parking and that the charging will generate around £30,000 per year.
Critics of charging say it is mean-spirited and will result in blue badge holders parking on double yellow lines, clogging up roads.
Coun Alan Sutcliffe (Cons), the council’s lead member for finance and asset management, said: “Charging for all blue badge holders irrespective of whether they are parked within a blue badge bay removes confusion and eliminates perceptions of unfairness that some blue badge holders are being asked to pay while others are not.
“However, our primary concern is that in developing the budget for 2014-15, we are faced with having to make sizeable six figure cuts.
“Along with other authorities in this position, we can no longer justify to council tax payers the continued provision of free parking to blue badge holders.”
But Coun Paul English (Lib Dem) said although he could understand that disabled drivers were just as likely to be able to pay as all drivers, he believed it would mean drivers simply parking elsewhere to avoid paying.
“I can understand the reason for charging, just because someone is disabled does not mean they are poverty stricken. But if someone has a blue badge they can park on double yellow lines for a small amount of time, and that is what they will do.”
And Coun Mark Wheeler (Lib Dem) said it was a mean-spirited decision that sent out the wrong message.
“I fully understand the point about not equating disability with ability to pay, but I do have issues with this rather mean-spirited proposal,” he said.
“Life is pretty challenging financially for many of us at the moment and living with a disability can be that bit harder,” he said.
“By adopting this policy, I believe the council are sending out a clear message to blue badge holders – we don’t care about your disabilities, just pay up like everyone else.”
Coun Wheeler pointed out that it was cheaper to park in Keighley and Pendle, where parking for blue badge holders was still free and called on the council to reverse its decision.
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