Calls to end disabled car park charges
DISABLED motorists are calling on councils in Norfolk to stop charging them to park in pay and display car parks.Currently there are discrepancies over parking charges in the county with some councils charging blue badge holders and others waiving parking fees.
DISABLED motorists are calling on councils in Norfolk to stop charging them to park in pay and display car parks.
Currently there are discrepancies over parking charges in the county with some councils charging blue badge holders and others waiving parking fees.
Many disability campaigners say all car parks should be made available to them for free.
But councils say they do not want to discriminate between any groups and spend the money on maintenance and providing better access for disabled drivers.
Yesterday, campaigners from Leonard Cheshire Disability met in Sheringham to call on North Norfolk District Council to scrap its charges.
Ed Maxfield, from Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “This is not about the cost of parking.
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“For one it is about safety. If parking charges are in place disabled people may choose to park in more dangerous places such as on double yellow lines.
“They also stand to lose tourism. There are about 100,000 disabled people within one hour of the Norfolk coast but they may choose to go to areas where they do not have to pay.
“Thirdly there is the problem that some people may not be able to manipulate the pay machines to put in coins. There are ways round this such as number plate recognition but councils have to invest a lot of money.”
Currently in the county only North Norfolk District Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council and West Norfolk Council charge blue badge holders for parking.
Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, said the council regularly reviewed it charging policies but that in his discussions with blue badge holders the most important issue raised was providing good and easy-to-use disabled parking spaces in appropriate places, not cost.
Nick Manthorpe, from North Norfolk District Council, said: “Disabled badge holders have the right to park in places where other drivers do not but in our car parks, which we have to maintain, we felt it was fair to charge everyone.
“The council felt that disabled drivers are not necessarily financially worse off and they are offered special allocated spaces.”
A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said it had just finished a major renovation project on its car parks during which it had created more wide spaces for disabled drivers.
During consultation with disability groups before the work took place most had said they would be happy to pay for parking fees if it meant improvements.