Sadness over blue badge plan

First published in News by

A MONMOUTHSHIRE councillor who has called a proposal to charge blue badge holders in authority car parks “wrong and immoral” expects the measure to be passed by the council’s cabinet today.

Plans to bring in the charges for the first time have been strongly opposed by several groups around the county but Cllr Sue White said she was resigned to the plan being given the green light at the meeting.

She told the Argus: “Blue badge holders are the most vulnerable people in the community. If Monmouthshire is in such a dire state that we need to charge the vulnerable, that is so, so sad.”

The council’s economy and development select committee has taken ideas from a £28,000 report by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff and amended them to fit the council’s needs. These will be considered by cabinet members today.

Committee members proposed that blue badge holders should be given an extra hour’s parking over what they would pay but that charges would only be introduced once car parks were compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act.

But Cllr White, ward member for Overmonnow, insisted people with blue badges would still be stressed by the need to go out and pay at a machine when that had never been required before.

Of her colleagues who have supported the proposal through the economy and development select committee, and who have been told the council plans to make more than £98,000 from the plan, she said: “A lot of them understand but it is like everything else, until it affects you, you don’t know of it.”

Meanwhile, simplified car parking charges will be proposed to the cabinet for all other motorists as part of a raft of other changes.

The council is proposing an increase of 20p in car parks – from 80p for up to two hours to £1 in its short-stay and long-stay car parks. Motorists wanting to park in short-stay car parks for more than five hours will also be required to pay a premium charge of £8 as opposed to £4 in long-stay car parks.

The council said an increase in charges was needed as they had not been reviewed for seven years and that a blanket strategy was not suitable for the needs of the county’s towns.

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