Disabled must pay for parking

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‘SCROOGE’ shopping centre bosses may perform a U turn about charging disabled Blue Badge holders to park.

The controversial decision, slammed as despicable by protesters, could be reversed within weeks, the Citizen can reveal.

But in the meantime any disabled person who receives a parking ticket from the affected area will probably have to pay the fine.

The Blue Badge outrage started last week when thecentre:mk suddenly converted 427 free spaces all around John Lewis store into £1.20 an hour pay and display.

Within hours the penny dropped that Blue Badge holders were expected to feed the meters in that area too.

And, because the parking bays are owned by thecentre:mk and patrolled privately by NCP, nobody has any grounds to appeal.

“It is despicable that people who are disabled should be expected to pay to park when they go shopping,” said Conservative councillor Uroy Clarke, who vowed to complain to the centre bosses.

Ironically the loss of free parking spaces came on the same day Milton Keynes Council performed a more friendly U turn – and changed a stretch of its own bays from pay parking to free.

Now shoppers can park in any of the 160 bays, sited outside the Food Centre and Xscape, for up to two hours without paying.

The change of heart came after the council’s change of administration, with the Conservatives reversing the Lib Dem’s budget-boosting decision.

The remainder of the shopping centre remains the same and disabled badge holders can still park for free in allocated bays.

Meanwhile bosses at thecentre:mk are staying tight lipped about their reason for introducing the Blue Badge rebuttal around John Lewis.

One theory is that the disabled policy may have been a MISTAKE or omission during the negotiations with the NCP contractors.

The Government’s Blue Badge scheme encompasses the entire country but is managed by each local authority.

Though there is no legal requirement for the scheme to extend to privately-owned car parks, though most chose to adopt it.

This week a spokesman for thecentre:mk said: Following recent changes to the car park’s E2.4 and E1.1, we are aware that the current policy for blue badge holders has caused discussion and on reflection, we will be reviewing this element with our current parking supplier.”

A council spokesman said: “We can confirm we run free car parking for Blue Badge holders but it is not for us to comment on parking arrangements on private land.”