Sunday, 10 February 2013

20% RISE FOR DISABLED

Disabled parking permits will rise by 20% from April disability campaigners and opposition members of Teignbridge Council have discovered - while at the same time charges for some car parks and time bands are being cut! The surprise proposals are part of a package of measures to bring-in an extra £160,000 a year from car parking across the district. Disability campaigners and councillors learned of the planned hike in parking permit charges after Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Teignbridge, asked for the full list of fees and charges planned from April. "Most councillors on Teignbridge have not seen the detail of what the council is planning. Indeed, when I asked for the full list, I was sent an email link. The details have not been sent to each councillor with their budget papers. All we've had is a broad overview," explained Cllr Connett. The 20% hike in parking permits fees, rising from £10 to £12 a year, was a surprise as well for members of Teignbridge Access Group which campaigns for the interests of people with disabilities in the district. Chairman Bob Newton said they had not been consulted about the proposals although a council officer is due to attend a meeting on Tuesday (12 February) just two days before the Executive decision-making councillors at Teignbridge are due to approve their final budget proposals. Mr Newton added:" This increase may be only £2 a year, but it is another cost among the many other pressures faced by people with disabilities. They are already struggling with many issues and the chaos being created by ATOS in determining fitness for work. "Hard pressed families, whether disabled or not, are facing some difficult choices and a 20% increase in annual parking permits is another burden, especially as there has been no warning about this. It has almost leaked out without us having a real opportunity to engage with the council and perhaps look to see if there were alternatives. "The council may say the increase is only £2 a year but at the same time they are cutting some other parking charges. It looks like disabled drivers are being penalised and indeed, I worry that if this goes ahead it will impinge on some of the most vulnerable in our community." Teignbridge is also offering a three-year disabled parking permit for £30 (£10 a year) but Mr Newton says that it may also be a struggle for disabled drivers to find £30 in one go. "Not everyone is going to be able to find £30 from their household budget. It seems Teignbridge just haven't thought this through and if they had consulted with us in the first place we may have avoided a lot of the difficulties they seem to be creating for themselves and the disabled." Teignbridge Council is due to meet on 22 February when councillors will make the final decision on the budget, which takes effect from April.

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