COMMENTING on the various letters published in last week’s Boston Standard regarding the introduction of parking fees for Disabled Badge holders, one of the intrinsic characteristics we all share as humans is our indignation and feeling of injustice when a right or a benefit – especially a long-standing one – is rescinded.
It follows, thus, that we should expect Disabled Badge holders visiting our town centre to be vocal in their objections, and I’m sure they will receive much sympathy.
It seems that many readers took umbrage at the mention of 99 per cent of disabled people not having a financial problem, as quoted from Coun Richmond’s comments in The Standard. If figures are what people are interested in, I may not be an expert but a quick look at the AA’s website shows that the minimum running and standing costs of a car that averages 10,000 miles a year in 2011 is 45.53 pence per mile or, to put it another way, a little less than £5 for every 10 miles. As Mr Chapman concedes, a proportion of disabled people do qualify for a free tax disk but, even taking this into account, their cars will therefore surely be expensive to run and maintain.
So, disabled people may need cars for genuine mobility reasons, but I see no genuine reason why they should be exempt from car-parking fees. If they have the means and wherewithal to finance the running of a car then, by the same token, they have the means and wherewithal to pay a comparatively minuscule fee to park in our town centre. The decision to charge the disabled for parking should be based on fairness and equality, and never clouded by emotion.
Leading on from this, there’s the issue of mobility itself. One very prominent feature of disabled parking bays is that they’re located nearer to shops and facilities than the standard bays. I recall seeing an increasing number of mobility scooters about town in recent years, but I struggle to remember spotting many wheelchairs or sticks. This, then, begs the question: once the disabled have parked in their conveniently located (free-of-charge) bays, how do they get about town, let alone manage the huge trek to Costa Coffee or stroll around the aisles of Marks and Spencer?
Finally, while our borough councillors are parking free of charge in our council-run car-parks (while they are on council duty), Disabled Badge holders are not only parking free of charge at any time but often availing themselves of bays much wider than the standard ones.
Disabled drivers are therefore getting more for their money (well, that’s if they paid their money). On this basis, as a non-Disabled Badge holder, I could argue that I’m being discriminated against…and isn’t that ‘against the law’, Mr Rolfe?
MR C. RICHMOND