Thursday, 22 January 2015

Cornwall Council consulting on extending blue badge parking charges

Cornwall Council has started a consultation on a proposal to extend the requirement to pay for parking to all blue badge holders. At present, those who are exempt from road tax can park for free whilst all other blue badge holders receive an extra hour on their parking.

The proposal is to bring the tax exempt badge holders into line with others - meaning that they would have to pay, but they would receive an hour for free on top of whatever they paid for.

Cabinet member for Transport, Bert Biscoe, has said the following:
"Since 2010 car park users displaying both a blue badge and a nil tax/disabled tax disc have been entitled to free parking in Cornwall Council car parks. This facility was introduced because at the time not all car parks had payment machinery that was accessible to people with disabilities. Since then the Council has committed to upgrading payment equipment and has introduced pay by phone (currently provided by RingGo). The equipment upgrade programme will be complete in mid-2015 (subject to funding being approved for the final phase of the upgrade). The Council does not propose to introduce charges until this is complete.

"The situation came to a head last year when the Government announced the end of tax discs. It had not prepared an alternative measure for identifying tax-exempt disabled car users and determined that it would leave solutions to local authorities. We put in place a temporary scheme which enabled our parking enforcement team to use hand-held equipment to check if vehicles, entitled to nil tax/disabled, had informed us and been included on a central register.  This scheme can only be run for a limited time period as the national database that Council officers are using to verify that someone is entitled to nil tax does not differentiate between vehicles that are entitled to nil tax for disabled, historic vehicles and eco vehicles.  Furthermore, the Council register cannot be edited to remove vehicles that are no longer entitled to the free parking, so over time this system could become open to abuse.

"The Council's proposal is to charge the tax exempt Blue Badge holders who currently park for free, but to leave in place the additional free hour for all Blue Badge Holders (To clarify this issue which has caused some confusion this week: Blue badges paying a parking fee automatically get one extra hour of free parking. For example if someone correctly displays a blue badge and pays for 2 hours, they can park for 3 hours). Blue Badge holders are also able to park in areas where other restrictive on-street measures (double yellow lines, single yellow lines etc) apply, provided that they do not cause an obstruction. 

"There are a total of 35,000 blue badge holders in Cornwall, of whom 13,000 are currently entitled to free parking.

"It should be emphasised that the original facility was not introduced to give a financial advantage to one group of people over others but to remove the necessity for tax exempt Blue Badge holders to wrestle with inadequate machinery. We will have addressed this inadequacy and introduced a phone-based payment system by the time the proposal would be introduced.

"The consultation can be found at www.cornwall.gov.uk/parkingconsultations. Alternatively, they can download a copy of the questionnaire off the website or pick up paper copies from One Stop shops and libraries. Any enquiries should be directed to the following email address: disabledparking@cornwall.gov.uk or to the following address: Disabled Parking Consultations, Parking Services, PO BOX 664, Truro, TR1 9DH.  The consultation runs from 16 January – 17 April 2015."


1 comment:

Ed Kemp said...

How tight can they get? If they have a blue badge and are really too crippled or I'll to walk about they should get free parking. They don't use a car by choice, there's no other way to get around. And those on benefits are the worst hit. What gets my goat is perfectly fit and healthy oaps abusing the badge. Just because someone is elderly it doesn't follow that they need help to get about. Only those who can't walk more than 100ft should get a badge, and they should park free. What do you say to that?