Blue badge fees will be increased

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The number of people successfully applying for disabled parking permits has fallen by a third since a new scheme was introduced.

Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet yesterday agreed to introduce a £10 charge for new blue badges, following a change in national laws which means councils are now responsible for giving out the parking permits.

The authority’s cabinet member for customer services Cllr Heather Smith said that the change, which also means occupational therapists brought in by the council now check whether people are eligible for the badges, had already seen more applications being turned down since the legislation was brought in on January 1.

She said: “Our occupational therapists have already started checking whether people are eligible or not, and we’ve so far declined a third of the applicants.

“People will see it’s not as easy as it was to get a blue badge any more.

“They are only for the people who truly need them.”

The Government said councils across the country could charge up to £10 for blue badges.

“More than 40 per cent of councils have decided not to charge the full £10.

But Cllr Smith said even the full charge would not cover the total bill for the council, which is expected to be £14 per card and added no-one who had been consulted by the authority had objected to the new charge.

But opposition Labour group leader Cllr John McGhee said: “Money is tight nationally. This should have been held back for a year or two and should not have been as high as £10.”