Cabinet backing for blue badge charges

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PLANS to charge disabled people with blue badges for parking have moved a step closer.

The proposals to ask blue badge holders to pay a discounted fee – two hours for the price of one – in off-street car parks was approved by St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet.

The charges would be implemented from April 2 subject to the authority’s budget setting process.

An estimated £100,000 could be made from the policy.

However, £30,000 would be spent to alter ticket machines to make them more accessible for disabled people.

A number of options were considered and consulted on as part of the move, including charging the same amount as other car park users and only charging in some car parks. During the consultation process, 612 out of 879 responses to a questionnaire said they supported charging.

Cllr David Nettleton, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, which made the recommendations to the cabinet, said: “They’re getting it half price with one free hour for every hour purchased.

“Some blue badge holders have mobility problems and it takes them longer to get around so that was a consideration for them.”

Disability group Optua said the move was ‘disappointing’ and could put some people off shopping in Bury St Edmunds.

A spokesman said: “However, we do understand the difficult position that councils are in and that their finances are under pressure.”