“IT’S going to make me really anxious, more fatigued and once again restrict my independence,” criticised one Farnham resident as Waverley Borough Council brought in new changes for disabled motorists.
As of Monday (April 3) disabled motorists no longer automatically receive free parking with a Blue Badge in Waverley car parks.
Even if drivers have a Blue Badge, they still need to pay to park in the disabled bays, using the parking machines or RingGo, which according to those who use it, has additional charges.
However Waverley Borough Council does offer a free parking permit for disabled residents on income related benefit, which will have the same life span as the Blue Badge.
This entitles the motorist to park in the borough’s car parks for free when displaying both their Blue Badge and permit, clearly in the front windscreen.
Tania Tirraoro, founder of the award-winning blog, Special Needs Jungle, is furious with this decision: “The Blue Badge and free parking gave me much more independence, as my condition means I have chronic pain and can’t stand for long.
“Being able to just park close, go into the dentist or another store makes it possible to go out by myself. Standing or even queueing at a parking meter will make it much less likely that I will be able to do that.
“Using an app to pay is one thing, but I also suffer memory loss, so I am likely to forget to pay or to top up if I take too long and end up with a fine.”
Motorists with both a Blue Badge and disabled parking permit may park in any disabled bay free of charge for a maximum of three hours.
The motorist can also park in a general bay that is not reserved for any other person or permit holder. The general bays are free of charge for an unrestricted amount of time when displaying both the permit and Blue Badge.
According to Waverley Borough Council, “the aim is to provide free parking for those who need it most”.
These changes are expected to create an extra £75,000 income for the council per year, and come as part of Waverley’s attempts to replace reductions to its central Government funding.
Tania, who is also a journalist, author and parent of two sons who around 10 years ago were diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, concluded: “This new policy cannot possibly create enough revenue to make it worth making people’s lives more difficult than they already are.
“It’s not about the money, it’s discriminating against people, like me, who rely on easy and fast access with minimum impact on energy or anxiety levels. What has happened to the compassion of people in positions of power that they cannot understand the impact this will have?
“The council claim to have done a so-called ‘impact assessment’. Exactly who did they ask? It’s riding roughshod over people who are already hard-pressed to take part in society the same way everyone else can.”.