A CHARITY has said potential car parking charges for disabled drivers across Monmouthshire would be “draconian” and target some of society's poorest people.

A written statement from the Care charity said the council potentially charging blue badge holders would be unfair.

The plans were submitted in a report to Monmouthshire County Council from transport firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

But councillors voted six to two in favour of charging them in principle at a special meeting of the council’s economy and development select committee.

The report suggests increasing hourly car parking charges across the county by 20 pence in Chepstow, Abergavenny, Monmouth and Usk and improving car parks’ ticket machines, which have been used since 1997.

Charges for long and short stays in the council’s car parks are currently 80p for two hours, £1.30 for three hours and £1.80 for four hours. Five hours costs £2.80 and increases by a pound with every extra hour. All-day stays cost £3.50.

But John Bannon of the Abergavenny Chamber of Trade pleaded with councillors to ignore the plan. He said the town is “as shabby as it ever has been” and argued the solution was to increase footfall, which he said would not be achieved by increasing charges.

Several councillors asked for the plans to include shorter periods for people who only wanted to make short visits.

Cllr David Dovey, representing Chepstow, said half an hour’s free parking in town “works extremely well because people don’t abuse it”.

Meanwhile, Roger Hoggins, the county council’s head of operations, said the “basic and utilitarian” machines are “in a poor state of maintenance”.

He said the council could lose £1.3 million in revenue if it decided to make all parking free. A council officer, Amanda Perrin, said there had been a trial of new machines in Chepstow last summer and “positive feedback” had been received.

But further proposals to charge for Sunday parking were “reckless” and “ill thought out”, Cllr Armand Watts said.

Shop owners also lashed out at the possible plans to increase charges in Chepstow.

Trevor Hewitt, owner of Bah Humbug sweet shop on Nelson Street, said the council should be careful not to drive trade away.