Monday 23 June 2014

Madge's Blue Badges

In Labour's election manifesto for the county council elections two short years ago, Kevin Madge promised that a Labour-led Carmarthenshire County Council would "keep current systems of Blue Badges" and "oppose any attempts to charge Blue Badge holders for parking".

This was just one of a very long list of commitments, many of which were either meaningless ("provide strong leadership" and "continue to support Glangwili and Amman Valley hospitals"), or bizarre ("establish new bridleways for horses"), but the promise to keep the Blue Badge scheme and oppose charges for Blue Badge holders seemed clear enough.

We also have a Labour-led council, unless Kevin Madge has quietly defected to another party in the last few days.

Introducing charges for Blue Badge holders was one of a very long list of proposals considered by Kevin Madge and his fellow Executive Board members when they were putting together the budget for 2014-15, and it was duly rubber-stamped and passed by the Labour and Independent members without a single abstention or dissenting voice.

Perhaps Labour's councillors had not read their own manifesto.

Needless to say, the council decided not to make a fuss about what it had done, and its press releases after the budget was passed concentrated on telling us which services were not being cut and which charges were not being raised.

All went very quiet until recently when the council issued a draft off-street parking order. Buried somewhere in the fine print are changes to concessions for Blue Badge holders. The story was picked up by the Carmarthen Journal which noted the concern this was causing disabled people across the county.

The newspaper contacted John McEvoy, the council's transport and parking manager, and the man whose name appears on the new order.

Mr McEvoy has obviously undergone training by the council's press office in how to deal with inquisitive journalists because this is what he said by way of clarification:

"The current suite of off-street parking places orders contains a clause in the main body of the order outlining the first three hours free parking concession for disabled badge holders.

"The relevant clause is located within that part of the order titled Disabled Persons' Vehicles. The proposed off-street parking places consolidation order does not contain reference to a three- hour free parking concession for disabled badge holders."

That'll be a 'yes' then.


Anonymous said...

Its a shame if the blue badge scheme is changed too much or done away with but I suppose that the pain of deficit reduction must be shared equally.

In addition I feel that a lot of blue badge holders only have themselves to blame due to the huge amount of abuse of the system.

Your point about the Labour Party is valid. They are not socialist and to be perfectly honest they should be ashamed of themselves. They have no principles and should all be enrolled in the Tory Party.

Chris Welch said...

Dear anon. Clearly you have absolutely no clue about life as a blue badge holder in the real world! Aside from fighting off selfish able bodied drivers from parking in stupid places or selfishly stealing our spaces, we spend far too long attempting to navigate poorly designed or poor quality facilities.

The last thing we need is a poorly thought out expensive exercise in administration.

Each case should be looked at on an individual basis.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that in “clobbering” some of the disadvantaged in our society, i.e. blue badge holders, who are losing their 3-hour free parking concession, that those councilors who approved the new parking regime, together with council employees, are themselves EXEMPT from payment of parking charges! It is a prime case of “do as I say, not do as I do!”
All councilors and council employees should have to suffer like the rest of us and be forced to pay these charges. It will be noted that how unwilling our councilors are to help it times of financial restraint – the very least they should do is relinquish a portion (a third?) of their over –generous allowances and expenses – as things stand, both the majority of our councilors and senior staff represent extremely poor “value for (our) money”
Come the local elections, many of us have long memories………so don’t take it for granted you will be returned…..

Cneifiwr said...

A couple of years ago the council said that there were about 16,500 blue badge holders in the county - that's nearly one in ten of the population.

Quite a few county councillors have blue badges, including several on the Executive Board. In some cases it is pretty obvious why they need this concession, but not so in others.

Perhaps part of the problem is that it is too easy to get a blue badge. We've probably all seen £60,000-£70,000 vehicles roar into disabled parking bays and watched in amazement as their drivers sprint off, leaving a blue badge on the dashboard.

A couple of years ago I even saw a Ferrari parked within the zigzag lines of a pedestrian crossing - complete with blue badge!