Disabled drivers feel the force of council cutbacks

Blue badge drivers in Tameside will encounter even higher motoring costs next year as the local council look to increase their income. Disabled drivers in the area already reeling from high fuel costs and inflated motor insurance quotes will now have to pay to park in council car parks at the turn of the year. They will also see the price of a blue badge go from £2 to £10, an increase of 400%.

Currently blue badge holders are allowed to park for up to three hours without charge on the pay and display car parks. But from the 3rd of January they will need to buy a ticket to park for an hour before they get a further two hours free. The council claim the extra hours of parking will compensate a disabled driver for the extra time it takes them to get around the shops. January 3rd will also see the badge fee jump from £2 to £10. It is thought that this will generate around £100,000 in extra income for the council. The new blue badge fee has been set by the Coalition to help every council cover their administration costs and also make the blue badge scheme a better one for disabled drivers.

Councillor Peter Robinson, executive member for transport, said “Tameside Coalition supports voluntary groups in the borough and we carried out an eight-week consultation. We appreciate that the current tough financial climate means that every penny matters to many households across Tameside but we must remember that having a blue badge is not a reflection on a person’s ability to pay for car parking. The scheme operates to ensure that people with disabilities have convenient access to car parking spaces which are close to facilities.”

A council spokesman asserted they are fully committed to making sure that anyone with a disability will have easy access to their town centre, and they are proud to provide blue badge parking bays throughout the borough and in fact they have more than the national guidelines require. They will also continue to offer free car parking after 3pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in every car park.

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