Permit increase is ‘insult to disabled’

Disabled parking badge.
Disabled parking badge.
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A PROPOSAL for a 400 per cent increase in the cost of a disabled parking badge has been described as ‘adding insult to injury’.

Under plans to alter the way the disabled parking scheme is managed, the Government has said local councils can charge up to £10 for new blue badges which are harder to forge than those issued under the current scheme.

It is believed that 41 per cent of councils across the country have decided not to charge the maximum fee, but Northants County Council’s cabinet is due to approve an increase for the three year long permit from £2 to £10, during a meeting next week.

Craig Jeffs of Shire Mobility, who sells and maintains mobility equipment for disabled customers throughout south Northants, said local authorities should be concentrating on those who abuse the blue badge system.

Mr Jeffs said: “It’s not too bad in supermarkets where you have lots of disabled parking bays, but in town centres and smaller businesses it can be difficult if you need to get close to something. And if they can’t, it might mean they have to rely on someone else or go without.

“A lot of customers who pay for the blue badge tell me they cannot park in disabled bays because either relatives of blue badge holders are using the permit or there’s just an able bodied person who can’t be bothered to walk a few hundred yards.

“So yes, I welcome measures to make it harder to forge the badges, but it still means badge holders will pay for it and still not be able to use the parking bays. It just adds insult to injury.”

The council has worked out each blue badge will cost the authority a total of about £14 to issue.

The cost includes £4.60 for the production of the actual badge and then an additional cost for administration and enforcement of the parking scheme.

A total of 750 people in Northamptonshire are due to have their blue badges renewed when the scheme comes into force.

Across the county, there are a total of 36,000 blue badge holders.

A report prepared by NCC officers, which will be seen by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, January 10, said: “These changes include the implementation of a new badge design that is harder to copy, forge or alter, the strengthening of enforcement to control the misuse of Blue Badges and the introduction of a new online application process.

“The purpose of this report is to propose that NCC introduce the full allowed charge of £10 per badge in order to recoup costs and still deliver a subsidised service to the Blue Badge holders of Northamptonshire, offsetting some of the cost to NCC of verifying eligibility on medical grounds when necessary.”