25th June 2021
25th June 2021
Plans have been unveiled to scrap the free parking for Blue Badge Holders in council car parks in Newcastle City Centre from 1 July 2021.
The move will see Blue Badge Holders having to pay for parking in the council-run car parks, where the prices are due to increase by at least 10p this summer already in a move to discourage commuters from driving to the city centre.
It has been announced that Blue Badge Holders will be given an extra hour for free in Newcastle’s council-run car parks after their ticket expires – a small token of apology for what will no doubt cause untold issues for those who rely on these car parks.
Blue badge holders will still be able to park for free in 2,000 on-street parking spaces in the city centre under the new scheme.
A spokesperson from Newcastle City Council said: “With the easing of restrictions as part of the government’s road map, demand for car parking and levels of traffic in the city are expected to increase so it is now appropriate to implement these changes to keep traffic flowing across our busy road network.”
What does this mean for Blue Badge Holders?
For those with a wheelchair accessible vehicle, parking on the street is not safe. Many of these vehicles have a large access ramp at the rear which requires more room than will be provided with on street parking. It runs a real risk of those who use a wheelchair being unable to access their vehicle if a car has parked behind them.
Blue Badge Holders may also need to transfer from the vehicle into a wheelchair. This could mean doing so in the middle of the road, forcing those who need to do this into a position of danger as well as disrupting oncoming traffic.
Many students with a disability who study in the city rely on their free parking to attend university. Will this move result in those who cannot afford to pay for a full day of parking each day having to drop out?
Though some Blue Badge Holders may be able to use public transport to access the City Centre, for many this isn’t an option. In any case, why should they have to cease using their vehicle which is so often the thing that grants those with disabled access needs the most freedom. With buses and trains usually only having space for one or two wheelchairs at most, it serves as a further barrier for those who use them being able to access the city safely.
The plan shows a real lack of understanding on the Council’s part of what many Blue Badge Holders require when travelling. In an age where we strive to be inclusive to all, regardless of race, age, ability, gender or sexuality, this move will see many people excluded from accessing the city on the most basic level.
Many of our Court of Protection clients heavily rely on their free parking in the city to help promote their independence and allow them to lead a full life. This scheme will have a significant impact on their welfare and finances should it go ahead.
What can I do?
Kate Stanforth, a dance teacher from the local area who uses a wheelchair and holds a Blue Badge has voiced her concerns over the devastating impact this scheme will have on her both personally and professionally. She has started a petition to have this move halted, outlining the increased difficulties that those who rely on free Blue Badge parking will face should this go ahead.
Kate is hoping to make her case at the next full council meeting on 30 June 2021, if she can reach 2,500 names before then to meet the requirement needed to present a petition.
You can support Kate by signing the petition on change.org, a link to the petition is below.