Disabled drivers must pay to park

Councillor Les Sibley with one of the new machines
Councillor Les Sibley with one of the new machines

DISABLED drivers will have to pay to use Bicester’s council-owned car parks.

The new charges introduced on April 4 included fees for disabled blue badge holders have been blasted as ‘penny pinching’.

And one member of disability rights website Scope has challenged councillors to live a day in his shoes.

The blogger Jobseeker wrote: “A council is doing away with free parking for blue badge holders. Disabled people are feeling the brunt of it! Whichever councillor first came up with this idea needs to reassess the idea! Live a day as we have to, money is a big issue.”

Cherwell District Council member Les Sibley is planning to raise a petition on the issue.

He said: “There’s been overwhelming disgust at the way blue badge holders have been treated.

“It just looks like penny-pinching by the council.”

He said while some of the pay-and-display machines had been adapted for use by wheelchair users, not all had. And he said some spaces were too far from machines to be used by people with mobility problems.

But Cherwell’s interim chief executive, Ian Davies, said the council needs the extra income to fill the void created by the cut of the £1.4million Government grant and had consulted with disability groups.

He said: “This has meant some tough decisions, one of which was to introduce parking charges for blue badge holders.”

He said blue badge holders’ evening charges had been waived, greater discounts on season tickets offered, and they would get an hour’s free parking on top of what is paid for.

“Cherwell is not the first authority to introduce parking charges for blue badge holders and it certainly will not be the last,” he added.

A PARKING TAX ON THE DISABLED

WE all know times are hard.

Cuts are the order of the day and new ways are having to be found to bring money into council coffers.

But extending parking charges to disabled drivers is a step too far.

Surely even a society battling against the deepest recession in modern times must still protect the most vulnerable members of our society – not charge them for services they need to live normal lives.

While many Bicester residents can swap their cars for public transport or walk into the town centre, this is often not the case for wheelchair bound or otherwise disabled people.

That is why the Bicester Review is calling on Cherwell Disrict Council to bring an end to this scheme now.

It is nothing more than a tax on the disabled.