of disabled parking badges to increase for first time since 1983
County Council has this week invited disabled motorists in the
Burnham-On-Sea to give their views on a potential increase in
the cost of Blue Badges.
In response to national changes, the council said on Monday it
is considering raising the cost of a new or renewed Blue Badge
from £2 to £10 from 1st April 2012, as permitted under
the national changes which come into effect in January. This would
be the first increase in the charge for a Blue Badge since 1983.
Most Blue Badges are valid for three years and holders can park
close to where they need to go, sometimes free of charge.
The increased charge would cover additional costs the council
is facing to fund the national production of harder to forge badges
and set up a database of badge holders to tackle misuse. The extra
income would also help it fund additional checks of residency
and identity, and cover more of the councils costs for running
the Blue Badge scheme at a time when budgets are stretched.
Councillor Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member with responsibility
for Community Services, said: "The national changes will
reduce fraud and misuse and benefit the vast majority of badge
holders, making it easier for them to make use of their badges.
But they do mean increased costs to the Council and we feel that
even at £10 every three years, a Blue Badge would still
represent very good value for money."
Around 32,000 people currently have blue badges across Somerset,
and each year the County Council issues around 10,000 for a charge
of £2. The average cost to the Council is currently around
£10 per badge but the new production fee will bring that
up to an estimated £14 per badge.
The deadline for responses to this consultation is 15th January,
2012 and the potential rise in the charge for Blue Badges will
be considered by the Councils Cabinet on 1st February, 2012.
The council wants to hear the views of Blue Badge holders, carers
for people who hold Blue Badges and anyone with an interest, before
the decision is made. To take part in the consultation, visit
www.somerset.gov.uk/bluebadge or call 0845 345 9133 for details.