‘It’s disgusting’ - Blue badge holder criticises car park price increase
PUBLISHED: 12:07 06 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:23 06 October 2020
A blue badge holder has been left feeling “disgusted” after a car park price hike.
East Suffolk Council increased the payments in council run car parks in Lowestoft for blue badge holders in August.
Previously, East Suffolk Council introduced payments so that blue badge holders could double the amount of time they parked in a certain area.
However, disabled drivers are no longer given double the time and still have to pay the same price.
Colin Tuttle, 72, is a blue badge holder and said: “I first noticed the price hike three weeks ago and I was surprised blue badge holders received no notification of this.
“I’m a blue badge holder but I’m not severly disabled, I have terminal lung cancer so I struggle with my breath.
“But I saw one elderly lady at Pakefield Road car park, she paid for two hours and said if she can’t do what she needed to do she would have to come back and pay for another ticket.
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“She had two walking sticks and was really struggling to walk.”
Mr Tuttle believes East Suffolk Council have targeted the disabled as a cost-cutting method.
Norman Brooks, East Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for transport, said that “double time” was removed for blue badge holders after research indicated pricing was not an issue, but accessibility.
He added: “East Suffolk Council removed the ‘double time’ for blue badge holders in car parks when a new pricing structure was introduced in August this year, following consultations carried out in March, April and May.
“This decision was based on a range of information, including research carried out by the British Parking Association (BPA) into the needs of disabled drivers. This revealed that the issues disabled drivers face are more about accessibility rather than parking ticket price.
“Alongside this, we have also worked with local disability forums which has revealed that another major issue faced by disabled drivers is illegal parking in disabled bays.”
When justifying the price hike, Mr Brooks went on to say: “This is absolutely not a cost-cutting exercise and it is not the case at all that disabled drivers are being targeted in any way. This is part of our new pricing structure, where we have made pricing simpler for all by removing a range of hugely different tariff structures in a ‘cost neutral’ way which will not raise any additional money for the council, but will ensure fairness for all.
“Additionally, we have also introduced a range of schemes, such as free half hour parking, which is also available to blue badge holders, to help increase the number of visits to our towns and villages and support our local businesses who desperately need a boost at this difficult time.”
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