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Parking charges for disabled drivers in Boston go ahead despite protest

By Boston Target  |  Posted: July 04, 2012

PROTEST: Members of Boston Disability Forum held a protest against parking charges for disabled drivers before the meeting at which the charges were agreed. (Picture: Marie Williamson)

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PROTESTS and threats of legal action failed to prevent a proposal to make disabled drivers pay to use council car parks in Boston from being approved.

Originally due to come into force last month, the charges were delayed by four formal objections which forced Boston Borough Council to hold a special meeting to reconsider the fees.

Members of Boston Disability Forum staged a protest outside the council headquarters before the meeting and their pleas for a change of heart won the backing of almost all opposition councillors.

But after a tense debate which was regularly punctuated by bursts of applause or angry shouts from the public gallery, the charges were approved by 17 votes to 10.

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All Conservative councillors present except for Mayor Colin Brotherton who, as is customary for the borough's first citizen, did not vote, supported the fees as did independent Alan Lee.

Prior to the vote several non-Tory councillors urged the ruling group to reconsider its proposal while others called for a suggested extra 30 minute parking time for Blue Badge holders to be extended to one hour.

Labour leader Paul Kenny compared the fees idea to the Government's ill-fated "pasty tax" and said the council's administration should follow Prime Minister David Cameron's example and perform a u-turn.

He also warned that the fees could face a legal challenge which, if the authority lost, would prove costly to taxpayers.

Councillor Kenny appealed to the Conservative group to "take a step back" and "do the right thing for the disabled people of this town."

Independent councillor Carol Taylor accused the administration of "putting finances before people" while the Boston and District Independents deputy leader Alison Austin said: "Are we so hard up that we as a council need to squeeze every penny out of our disabled residents?"

Labour's Paul Goodale also spoke out against the charges but said if they were imposed there should be a "fair compromise" with the extra 30 minutes extended to one hour.

Conservative Mike Gilbert defended the fees plan claiming it was about "equality" and "giving people the opportunity to pay their way."

Meanwhile his fellow Tory and parking portfolio holder, Derek Richmond, dismissed calls for the Boston Disability Forum's opposition to the proposals to be given more weight stating that would be like "asking turkeys to vote for Christmas."

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  • nickythenark  |  July 04 2012, 9:04PM

    "Conservative Mike Gilbert defended the fees plan claiming it was about "equality" Whats the nasty party going to do next Mr Gilbert take the white sticks off blind people because sighted people haven't got one. all in the name of "equality" of course.

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  • nickythenark  |  July 04 2012, 6:49PM

    Mr and Mrs nasty ride again. tut tut what a horrible world we live in now. Please Sir its so unfair they get something i don't.

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  • InsideStory  |  July 04 2012, 6:30PM

    Everyone should be made to pay in public car parks others may disagree but why lose revenue by allowing some to use free spaces .Every person with a disability pass should also be reaccessed to establish if the person is still eligible for a pass.Nothing to hide nothing to fear.

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  • ThornyRay  |  July 04 2012, 4:50PM

    I am sure the Labour party in Boston will use this as a vote winner by claiming that charging is all wrong, much like the Labour Party in Lincoln did. But don't be fooled by them, Lincoln's Labour Council has not reversed these charges, despite being elected on the promise of doing so in their manifesto, and neither will the Boston Labour Party.

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  • VictorToo  |  July 04 2012, 11:17AM

    I'm wondering how this could face a legal challenge. If the proper process has been followed and the vote has been in favour - where's the illigality that would form the basis of the appeal ? All it would do is cost the taxpayers more money in the court and will end up with the same result, so it sounds like Mr Kenny wants to waste taxpayers money to try and gain political capital. Nice one.

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  • 2ridiculous  |  July 04 2012, 10:07AM

    According to the Government, they can park where they like and refuse to use car parks... Using a Blue Badge In England and Wales, Blue Badge holders may generally park: 1. On single or double yellow lines for up to three hours, unless there is a ban on loading or unloading. 2. At 'on-street' parking meters and pay-and-display machines for free and for as long as they need to. 3. In disabled parking bays. http://tinyurl.com/56f83p

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  • rick29  |  July 04 2012, 9:29AM

    how can they take legal action when it clearly states in the blue badge rules i also suggest Labour leader Paul Kenny reads the blue badge rules to, rules are rules dont like it then its tough. I suggest they have a blue badge rules test before they get there blue badge so they cant complain later on. blue badge rules clearly state the following: Place Off-street car parks (such as supermarket, hospital or local authority car parks) Conditions Off-street car park operators should provide parking spaces for disabled people. However, it is up to the car park owner to decide whether badge holders can park free of charge. Do not assume you can always park for free.

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