Saturday, 15 October 2011

Blue Badge Rebellion

As Richard North superbly illustrates, one of the Achilles' heels in how our country is governed is the way our local councils are funded - remove their revenue stream and effectively we put them over a barrel :
That people are reaching the limits of tolerance is illustrated by events in Wiltshire where a downturn in car park income has triggered the classic (and economically illiterate) response from the local council. It has put up charges to make up its income shortfall, the effect of which – according to local traders – has driven business away.

Such is the level of protest here that the council leader has not ruled out a U-turn at a full council meeting on 8 November, again illustrating how, when expressed at a local level, people power can have an effect.
Like all councils, the ones in the county where I live - Oxfordshire - are having to find significant savings. Funnily enough it comes as no surprise that any savings won't come from salary reductions or other costs (my emphasis):
We are an equal opportunities employer and we offer generous holidays, training and development opportunities, a final salary pension scheme and a wide range of family friendly policies and working patterns.
I lost my final salary pension scheme (like may others in the private sector) over 5 years ago. Nevermind, despite the desperate economic situation the public sector tries to continue as normal. Instead any savings will come from services:

LIBRARY users have expressed scepticism that the service in many Oxfordshire communities can be saved from closure by using volunteers.

They claim the plans revealed by the county council last week could mean Oxfordshire will be robbed of a modern library service.

As usual it's the vulnerable that are picked on first. This is made explicit by numerous councils attempting, among other measures, to introduce parking charges on disabled drivers:
A SUPPORT worker has called on Cherwell District Council to reverse its controversial decision to charge disabled blue badge holders to park.
My local council, in Oxfordshire, has put forward similar proposals this week.

This is a rather mean-spirited policy, which has been adopted by numerous other councils. However in the race to increase the revenue stream whilst trying to maintain the expenditure this is where the economically illiteracy comes in. The council won't make any more money from this and here's an example why.

Mrs TBF is partially disabled and as such is a frequent wheelchair user - she is unable to walk more than a few yards. As a consequence she is a blue badge holder which means she is entitled to, obviously, use disabled parking spaces. However also under the blue badge scheme this condition applies (my emphasis):
Badge holders may park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours but in general not where there are restrictions on loading or unloading – indicated by yellow kerb dashes and/or signs on plates. (You may wish to check whether a particular local authority has chosen to exempt Blue Badge holders from this restriction.)
So fine, charge disabled drivers for parking spaces, they'll just legitimately park on yellow lines - free of charge - instead and much more besides.

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