LETTER: Blue badges don't mean you can park for free
I read with interest regarding the Royal Hospital introducing parking charges for holders of blue badges. '¨My immediate response to anyone complaining about these charges is: why shouldn't they pay, exactly the same as other drivers?
Let me explain my response. Some years ago, I was at a meeting at the Chesterfield Town Hall where I was part of a group discussing a shortfall of around £250,000 in the upcoming budget for the following year’s setting of the council tax rates. We were struggling to find a way of raising this amount, and one of the suggestions was to raise car parking charges. At that time, blue badge holders were parking for free throughout the town. I asked the question: “What percentage of parking spaces were allocated to blue badge holders?” The reply from the council representatives present was that the figure was 25 per cent. Therefore, 75 per cent of the town’s car parkers were in fact subsidising the blue badge holders.
This was discussed, and my own input suggested that this was totally wrong. Blue badges have never been means tested, therefore anyone with any disability who qualifies them, will be able to get a blue badge. The badges are there to allow these unfortunate residents to park in spaces situated much nearer to their intended destination, be it shops or hospitals, etc. They were never intended to be for free parking.
When you consider the point that the badges are not means tested, anyone with an unfortunately suitable disability does qualify, from people struggling financially right through to millionaires. This is exactly the same for residents who do not qualify for a badge. In other words, all the town’s residents are in exactly the same situation, from poor to rich. I say again, the badges are to assist with the convenience of parking close to where you want to be, not to allow you to park for free.