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Disabled Parking at Home policy proposals described as “fraught with problems”

Proposals to implement a policy to allow blue badge holders to apply for designated disabled parking space outside their home have been described as “fraught with problems”, despite claims the scheme would be self-financing.

The potential introduction of developing a ‘Disabled Parking at Home’ policy across Wrexham will be debated by members of the Safeguarding, Communities and Well-Being Scrutiny Committee tomorrow afternoon.

Proposals for the scheme were first raised by the Labour Group as part of a ‘Notice of Motion’ presented to the Full Council in September 2016.

The motion put before the Council at the time, said: “The Council calls on the Executive Board to consider adopting a Disabled Parking at Home Policy within the electoral term of office of this Council and in line with enforceable policies adopted by Leicestershire County Council and Portsmouth City Council, thus prioritising the most vulnerable residents within our communities.”

Under the proposals blue badge holders across the County Borough would be able to apply for a disabled parking space / bay outside, or near to their home.

During last year’s meeting Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Dana Davies stated: “We have close to 9,000 blue badge holders in this county who have disabilities and mobility issues. Many are at risk of social isolation as they experience difficulty in getting from their home and to their car and back.”

She also explained that such a policy would be “self financing” and that similar policies have been adopted by councillors across the country.

However there were calls from a number of councillors for the report to be debated by scrutiny before such a policy is implemented, with an amendment to refer the proposals to the relevant committee backed by a majority of councillors.

Just over a year later, a report due before councillors tomorrow describes introducing such a policy as “fraught with problems in how it would be implemented to comply with equality legislation and establishing an equitable eligibility criterion”.

It is also noted that there is “no existing budget or staffing resource to provide this discretionary service”.

Under the Highways Act 1984 Wrexham Council does have powers to provide on-street disabled parking bays, along with powers to enforce under civil legislation. However there is no obligation for the local authority to provide such provision.

In tomorrow’s report it is explained that while Wrexham Council does receive requests from residents from on-street parking bays, they are “infrequent and few in number”.

The report adds: “The provision of these bays is a complex and emotive subject. There is no identifiable ‘one size fits all’ approach and policies vary from one local authority to another reflecting local priorities and circumstances.

“The complexity and difficulties of implementing such a policy is reflected in the fact that many local
authorities simply do not provide them.

“An information gathering exercise has been undertaken to outline the different methodologies, considerations, costs and resources associated with the development and implementation of on-street residential disabled parking bays.”

As a result of the exercise, the report recommends that committee members ‘note the information provided which reflects the complexity and cost implications of Disabled Parking at Home Policy and that proceeding with further development of this discretionary service is unlikely to lead to an achievable, sustainable policy at this time’.

The report will be before members of the Safeguarding, Communities and Well-Being Scrutiny Committee at 4pm tomorrow afternoon.

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