Price hike for disabled parking badges is too high, say pensioners

114478-3423 BLUE BADGE (RMc) MRW 23/12/2011''The cost of a Blue Badge should not have been increased from �2.00 to �10.00 says Geraldine Nery (69) at her home in Dover Road Portsmouth ''(left to right) Geraldine Nery (69) and her husband Brian Nery (76)'Picture: Malcolm Wells (114478-3423)
114478-3423 BLUE BADGE (RMc) MRW 23/12/2011''The cost of a Blue Badge should not have been increased from �2.00 to �10.00 says Geraldine Nery (69) at her home in Dover Road Portsmouth ''(left to right) Geraldine Nery (69) and her husband Brian Nery (76)'Picture: Malcolm Wells (114478-3423)

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THE decision to raise the price of blue disabled parking badges has been criticised by holders.

Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council agreed to reform the current system following recommendations from the Department of Transport.

The cost of a blue badge will increase from £2 to £10 from January 1 in Portsmouth in a bid to cut forged permits.

But Brian Nery, whose wife Geraldine is a blue badge holder, believes the price hike is ‘way over the top’.

Mrs Nery’s current blue badge is due to expire on January 13.

Mr Nery, of Dover Road, Copnor, said: ‘We are shocked to find the cost has risen from £2 to £10 from January 1.

‘We are both pensioners and I have got an increase in rent and only a three per cent increase on my private pension now too.

‘I am going backwards every year instead of going forwards.

‘On top of that, my wife has to have two new photos taken for the permit, which means it’s £14 to get a new badge.

‘We are going to have to grin and bear it and get on with it but we would have liked some prior correspondence from the council.

‘When we apply for a badge, it can take between four to six weeks to sort out. If it takes us over the time, where does it leave us?’

The council confirmed the new badge will be valid for three years and will equate to £3.33 per year.

It held a public consultation from October to December this year and received 1,563 responses, with the majority of respondents accepting the need to increase the charge.

New designs will be introduced making it harder to forge the badges and a new central database will hold the details of all permits issued nationally as the government issues greater powers to local authorities to tackle abuse of the system.

Michael Robinson, the city council’s parking operations manager, said the authority is expecting a shortfall of £12,500 a year despite the price increase.

He said: ‘We’re sorry about raising the charge, but the government has introduced a new central system for issuing blue badges.

‘This gives better fraud protection but is much more expensive for the council.

‘Even charging £10 will not cover our costs. We consulted the Portsmouth Disability Forum about this and they had no objection to the £10 charge because we were not making a profit.’