- None of the spaces proposed are equivalent to spaces being lost. They are not central to the town centre or level.
- This will cause issues to many people with disabilities or mobility issues. Many people with blue badges find walking distances very painful. The existing locations allow people to reach the High Street/Head Street part of town easier.
Entitlement to a Blue Badge
- To receive a Blue Badge automatically you need to receive High Rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and not be able to walk any further than 50m. DLA is now transferring to Personal Independence Payments and the criteria is now no further than 30m.
- To receive a discretionary Blue Badge the claimant cannot walk more than 80m.
- Most of the replacements are going into Vineyard Street, approximately 232.5m from the centre of the High Street. It has a very steep gradient going to it and is accessible only by a lift that is out of order more often than not, or by a flight of steps. The council refurbished this list in 2012, but it has contined to break down as often as it did. This could cause people to be trapped in the town centre, or fear using it.
- Priory Street is approx 526m from the High Street, and again has a very steep hill to reach the town centre. It’s also in bad condition. The road from the car park to the town centre is very narrow, and many wheelchair users have to use the road which is very dangerous as traffic cannot see into the road before turning.
- The parking spaces beneath Culver Street Shopping Centre is 334m from the High Street, including the distance from the parking to reaching Culver Square itself. It is not very well known to most Blue Badge holders, and spaces are limited. You need to register to park there by visiting beforehand, copying your blue badge and applying to Culver Street by post. This takes some time, and means it’s not equivalent to the High Street and Head Street spaces where you do not need an additional pass.
- St Mary’s Car Park is 250m from the High Street.
- None of the spaces are new. Any blue badge holder can already go to any car park and park there.
- The car parks are frequently very busy. The changes will remove even more spaces for non-disabled people when if the spaces remained in the High Street this would not be needed. The council will also lose the income from these bays.
- We feel if the council stops general traffic, but allows Blue Badge holders through, they will still be reducing traffic and pollution.
- While the High Street will be free of traffic, the rest of the town will be gridlocked as the junctions will not be able to cope with the additional traffic.
- The council’s main argument is that if Blue Badge holders enter the High Street, then other cars will follow. We feel this is very untrue. There are a number of unenforced bus lanes, where the odd person does break the law and go through them. It does not mean everyone else will follow.
- We have requested that if they feel this is true, they should enforce the ban. This means those that do break the law will get tickets, and blue badge holders can continue using it. The council responded they did not want to spend the money on this change, despite the fact the changes they wish to make will cost £50,000.
- By law bodies have to make reasonable adjustments, dependant on their size and what changes they are making. Colchester Borough Council is a large organisation making a big change, so we feel they have a duty to spend money to enable Blue Badge holders to continue using the spaces.
- Traffic Number Plate Recognition software already exists in the town, so the cost will be minimal.
- The council’s consultation has been minimal, inaccessible and never been published.
- The council’s Equality Impact Assessment is woefully inadequate.
You can read more about our background of fighting against the changes here.