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Disabled drivers facing blue badge charges
Disabled drivers could be charged for blue parking badges under a wave of transport reforms proposed by Barnet Council.
The authority hopes to recoup nearly £200,000 from drivers and passengers that are either blind or live with mobility-related disabilities by charging £10 to issue the permits.
Blue badges allow disabled users to park in free and dedicated spaces close to public amenities and on single yellow lines for up to three hours.
Central government has ordered that local councils cannot charge more than £10 for the badges, which the authority says cost less than £20 to administer.
The scheme has always been provided free of charge but Barnet Council plans to introduce the fees under a range of changes to its statutory transport services, provided for people with limited mobility.
Within the proposals, the authority hopes to merge its door-to-door transport services with Brent, Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow in a bid to save cash.
In consultation papers published on its website, the council states the move will “maintain if not improve” services on a smaller budget.
The council’s Travel Voucher Scheme, providing reduced taxi rates for people with limited mobility, will also be scrapped under the plans.
Although 342 people are signed up to the scheme, the council says just 95 regularly use the service.
In a bid to reduce the number of people using statutory mini-bus travel, the council is also looking to train volunteer services to assist people who have difficulty using public transport.
The Conservative administration hopes the volunteer-led assistance will encourage more people to use public transport and relieve some of the burden on its own transport services.
A public consultation into the proposal ended this week, with the matter due to be discussed at a cabinet meeting later this year.
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