Blue badge parking charges plan attacked
Updated 10:38am Wednesday 9th July 2014 in Monmouthshire news
BLUE badge holders will be charged in Monmouthshire council car parks for the first time if contentious plans are passed next week.
All fees in all of the authority’s car parks will also increase by at least 20 pence per hour, if councillors give the green light to the proposed changes.
The changes are part of a raft of 30 measures which councillors will discuss next Monday.
They will see drivers who are severely sight impaired and permanently impaired need to pay in the county council’s car parks – but they would receive an extra hour’s free parking.
The treasurer of the Gwent Disabled Motorists Club, Henry Wills, attacked the proposals.
He said: “Disabled people need their car and they need to have adequate parking because they need to get by – and it was free before.
“People who have had free access to parking are being penalised for it. (Free parking) is a right that all disabled people have if they reach the criteria.”
The chairman of the Friends of Abergavenny Shopmobility said that there must be more understanding about the provision of car parks for blue badge holders.
Although Graham Preece said he was not opposed to the charges in principle, he felt council officers have merely paid “lip service” to disabled people’s concerns about using new ticket machines that will be installed if plans go ahead.
In another major move, Usk Town Council could gain control of Monmouthshire council car parks there if the councils can reach an agreement by January 2016.
It could finally end long-running concerns about potential charging in the town from traders.
Usk town councillor Alec Leathwood said: “It has certainly given us an opportunity we were looking for. We had prepared taking over the car parks so I am delighted they reconsidered the proposals.
“If we can, we certainly would avoid car parking charges. It’s an exciting time ahead.”
Officers are proposing increasing charges by 20 pence per hour where they already exist.
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 80 pence, £1.30 and £1.80 for up to two, three and four hours respectively.
Then charges in short stay car parks would jump to £8 for more than five hours, whereas in long stay car parks the charge would be £3 for up to five hours and £4 for more than six hours.
And in Chepstow the railway station car park has been marked for £1 all day parking, while any parking in Abergavenny parking would be free after 4pm.
Other measures recommended to the council include not charging in Magor, Goytre or Gilwern.
A £28,000 report prepared for the council by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff had many of the measures, including blue badge charging and the price hike, that will be put to councillors for a second time.
The council’s deputy leader Cllr Phil Hobson said: “We recognise that car parking is an emotive subject and we cannot satisfy all demands. But we have listened to feedback and have tried to restructure the service to meet needs in individual towns rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”