Blue Badge Questions to Council
Four formal questions about the Blue Badge parking fiasco are being presented to tonight's meeting of the full council in Epsom & Ewell.
Revisit this website later in the week to find out some of the answers given from the Chairmen of the Committees concerned (Strategy & Resources for questions 1 - 3 and Environment for question 4).
1. Cllr Taylor is asking
The Consultation Institute defines consultation as "the dynamic process of dialogue between individuals or groups, based upon a genuine exchange of views, with the objective of influencing decisions, policies or programmes of action."
(a) Does the council agree with this definition and does it accept the Institute's "seven best practice principles"? If so, can the council confirm how consultation with Blue Badge holders was conducted and the responses given?
(b) If not, what definition would the council put on the term "consultation" and what kind of consultation was conducted with Blue Badge holders (vis a vis charges in council-owned car parks) and how does this compare with the Institute's "seven best practice principles".
2. Also from Cllr Taylor
Is the council aware of the Government's Code of Practice on Consultation and the July 2008 edition which incorporates seven consultation criteria, of which the first is "Formal consultation should take place at a stage when there is a scope to influence the policy outcome"? Moreover, has the council considered adopting this Code of Practice and if not, why not and furthermore, how would the consultation process in relation to Blue Badge holders (vis a vis charges in council-owned car parks) compare to this Code of Practice?
3. From Cllr Colin Taylor
The vice-chairman of S & R claimed in a radio interview that Guildford, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath and Woking councils charge Blue Badge holders for parking. When challenged on Facebook, he said he got his car park information from a council officer's report.
(a) Can the chairman of S & R please clarify whether there is a council officer's report giving information on charges for Blue Badge holders in council car parks elsewhere in Surrey and if so, where it can be found? A check on the websites of the other 10 local authorities in Surrey plus our two neighbouring London boroughs (Kingston and Sutton) shows that parking is free to Blue Badge holders in each case - either in all council-owned car parks or in some of them, though there are conditions in some cases.
(b) It appears that some councillors may have voted to impose charges on Blue Badge holders in Epsom & Ewell under the mistaken belief that this was already the practice in these other councils. If so, what is the status of their decision and how can it be reconsidered?
4. Finally, from Cllr Dave Morgan
Blue Badges have a registration number and a photo on the back that cannot be seen when displayed in car windscreens meaning that they can be photocopied, forged and transferred between cars relatively easily.
Some London councils are reporting as many as 1200 permit-related break-ins a year and councils are being urged to use new powers, which came into force in September giving parking attendants, traffic wardens and the police the power to inspect Blue Badges and fine people who are using them illegally up to £1,000.
Has Epsom & Ewell Borough Council given these powers to our parking attendants and if not, when is it intended they shall be given and how many people have been identified (and fined) for misusing a Blue Badge or for using a forged badge?