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Monday, 28 July 2014

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National Park leads way over parking for disabled people

SPECIAL arrangements have been made to allow disabled car drivers more time to use National Park Authority car parks throughout the Lake District.

The concessions follow discussions with organisations representing drivers who have blue badge parking permits, including Copeland Disability Forum and the South Copeland Disability Group.

In future, motorists displaying their blue badge will not have to pay for their first hour of parking providing they buy a ticket for the second hour. After that, they will pay the same parking rates as all other drivers.

To qualify for the new scheme drivers will need to apply for a special permit to secure their “free hour” of parking.

Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) car parks operations manager Dave Coxon said he had been approached by disabled groups asking for a concession and he was delighted that discussions had reached a sensible and fair solution.

He said: “We have policies that say we will supply special car parking bays for blue badge holders but also, in the present economic climate, we have to ensure all drivers pay for parking. And we wanted to try to be fair to everyone.

“We do understand that disabled people obviously take longer to carry out tasks such as shopping and sight-seeing, and in reality they seem to be getting less parking time for their money.

“So by giving blue badge holders this ‘free’ initial hour of parking we hope people will see we have responded to the initial approach in a fair and practical way.”

Anne Bradshaw, chair of Copeland Disability Forum, said: “We welcome the news and thank the LDNPA for listening to us. This is the first national park authority in the country to introduce this and we hope others will take their lead.”

The car parks owned by the LDNPA include: Brockhole (the Lake District Visitor Centre), Buttermere, Coniston (boating centre, in the village and around Coniston Water), Grasmere, Hawkshead, Langdale, Ravenglass, Thirl-mere, Ullswater, plus Hammerbank, Waterhead and Beech Hill (all on Windermere).

Full details of the scheme can be found at the national park website www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/carparks

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