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Wiltshire Council Defends Free Blue Badges

October 4, 2011

Plans to reform the blue badge disabled parking permit scheme have been criticised by Wiltshire Council.

The government says the current scheme needs to be updated because of fraud and abuse, but that local authorities can now charge up to £10 per permit.

Conservative-controlled Wiltshire Council says each badge currently costs £4.84 to administer and it is able to absorb this cost within its budgets.

Deputy leader John Thomson said the new scheme would see each badge cost £15.

Some 24,000 people in Wiltshire have blue badges and, at present, get them issued for free.

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Our attitude is that most people in Wiltshire are honest and that not every body is a crook”

John Thomson Wiltshire Council

Mr Thomson said: “We’ve been told [by the government] that we can charge £10 for this – but the by the time you’ve taken the cost of making the payment we’re not going to get £10.

“We have an extremely efficient four-page application form that can be filled in over the telephone. What they are proposing is a 22-page form.

“One of the reasons they are introducing the new permit is to cut fraud.

“It’s really fraud in the city they are targeting. This ‘fix all problems’ solution puts up costs and complicates the process.

“Our attitude is that most people in Wiltshire are honest and that not every body is a crook.”

Claire Perry, Conservative MP for Devizes, said she had a great deal of sympathy with the council’s position which operated a “very efficient” service turning the badges around within a week.

But Mrs Perry acknowledged that there was a “huge amount” of fraud and misuse of the badges.

“This means people who genuinely need the [disabled] bays often find them full.

“At [the Conservative Party] conference I will try to talk to the department and say ‘we have an excellent system in Wiltshire – can we have an opt-out clause?’.”

The blue badge scheme enables eligible people to park for up to three hours on double yellow lines for free.

It also allows free on-street parking where there are parking meters or permit schemes – if local authorities agree to waive the cost.

One Comment leave one →
  1. *Stargazer permalink
    October 5, 2011 12:53 am

    The free disabled badge scheme promotes business for retailers up and down the country.
    It is good for commercialism – and these businessess pay their dues to their councils?
    So why do they (that authority) have to make £360,000 in such a hurry? Where has all their money gone? Oh yes, cuts/ austerity measures etc.

    When the MP’s expenses scandal broke, was it last year?
    I read about one person who was paid £100,000 per annum, plus benefits, and claimed on expenses for a bath plug costing just 88 pence.

    The free blue badge scheme also allows less able-bodied people attend myriad appointments on time and with the minimum of fuss – saving professionals in various agencies from wasting man-hours on setting up meetings, only for the client to end up a “Did Not Attend”. Why should we have to pay for that vital help – when it’s difficult enough to get access to treatment, services, support and benefits in the first place?
    I won’t go on about the lack of suitable housing but that is a massive issue too.

    I’m starting to resent the view that we live in a democracy, when really to my mind it’s becoming more like a dictatorship – as the economy and society collapse around our ears.
    When will the establishment take responsibility and help us get to where we need to be, to get our “lazy asses” back to work – just like they want us to?
    And when we get these jobs, you can almost guarantee we won’t have an allocated space, we’ll just have to find one that’s disabled, and hope we don’t see someone parking without a badge, which has made us late for work!!??
    If you’re earning more than £15,000 a year then maybe you should pay the annual fifteen pound charge though – that would be fair and democratic – right?

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