Plan to hike parking fees and charge disabled drivers

COUNCIL bosses are looking to hike car parking fees in Boston – and want to start charging disabled drivers too.

Boston Borough Council has drawn up its medium term financial plan, which contains measures to save £770,000 in the next five years by making motorists pay more to park.

The council cannot force Blue Badge holders to pay at its on-street car parks, but elsewhere plans to ask them to pay the same as everyone else.

The price hikes include a 10p rise across all tariffs, introducing £1 evening charges, ditching most 60p 30 minute charges, increasing coach parking to £3 a day and making the cheapest all day car park £2.50.

Groups representing Boston’s businesses and disabled people have slammed the plans – and say it will stop people from shopping in Boston and force disabled motorists to park on double yellow lines, where they can park for free for three hours.

Joe Nash, a member of the Boston Disability Forum and chairman of the Boston Stroke Support Group, said: “I don’t agree with parking charges full stop. The businesses that keep the town alive are struggling with crippling local business taxes, then the council makes visiting the town less attractive so still fewer customers come, gradually killing the town.

“Charging the disabled to park is just preying on the vulnerable and the Blue Badge holders will just choke up the town on double yellow lines.”

A council spokesman said charging Blue Badge holders could bring in an estimated £80,000 a year alone.

The spokesman added: “Most car parks have a number of allocated bays for disabled drivers which allow easier access and are located more favourably.

“Lincoln and many other cities and towns now charge for parking by disabled people, including Boston’s Pescod Square Shopping Centre.”

The council says it needs to save money in light of Government cuts, which hit Boston harder than most, with a drop in the cash it receives of 31.9 per cent from 2010/11 to 2014/15.

Boston BID Manager Niall Armstrong said: “I can understand why they would want to put car parking up because they need the income but this will not do the town any good.

“There’s an argument that by actually reducing parking charges you get more people coming into the town and that offsets the loss of income.”

The council says it has set aside an estimated £81,000 in the 2012/13 car parking programme to fund improvements and repairs.

Cabinet members are due to give their verdict on the idea at a meeting today (Wednesday).

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