CAR park charges for blue badge holders in Monmouthshire council car parks moved a step closer yesterday after councillors voted in favour of the contentious measure.
But officers will seek to find whether exemptions could be implemented for people in financial hardship.
The deputy leader of the council, Cllr Phil Hobson, told the economy and development select committee: “It’s something that we have struggled with and consulted widely about and we (propose charges) with a heavy heart.”
He said charging blue badge holders in the council’s car parks now would be unfair because “standards aren’t up to scratch”. But he said improvements that will be made to the car parks, and updating all their ticket machines, would justify charging.
The secretary of Monmouthshire’s Cair group, Jenny Barnes, opposed the charges and said: “To charge (disabled people for parking) is against the MCC’s stated beliefs.”
Cllr Susan White, who called the plans “wrong and immoral”, opposed the measure. Cllr Kevin Williams also voted against the proposal.
The committee also recommended that any plan to cede control of its car parks in Usk to the town council will be completed within nine months, much shorter than the original expected date of January 2016.
Usk’s mayor, Cllr Roger Gellatley, said if any plan to give control to the town council failed, the townspeople would oppose any introduction of car park charges with “every fibre of our being”.
A plan for a possible flat rate of £1 in all county council car parks was rejected in a move the council’s head of operation Roger Hoggins said could cost the authority £25,000 in revenue. And he said the recommended measure for Chepstow for one hour’s free parking would look to combat competition from Newport and Bristol.
Other plans for increased charges were passed. If accepted by the authority’s cabinet, charges would increase by 20p for each hour.
A stay of up to two hours in short-stay and long-stay car parks across the county would be £1, £1.50 for up to three hours, and £2 for up to four hours. The charges are currently 80p, £1.30 and £1.80 respectively.