Disabled parking bays
9:01am Thursday 12th September 2013 in Letters
I REFER to the article featured in the September 5, edition of the Barry and District News, entitled ‘Fury as Parking Bay Cash Used Up’, in which Alun Cairns urges residents to sign a petition to increase our funding settlement from Welsh Government, seemingly to increase the number of individual disabled parking bays within the Vale of Glamorgan.
I would firstly like to thank Alun for taking such an active interest in the finances of our Council and secondly would wish to explain to our residents my actions in respect to the provision of disabled parking bays, since we took over power from the Conservatives in 2012.
The Council has historically introduced 10 individual disabled persons parking bays annually. In addition, a number of ‘general use’ bays have been introduced from time to time in shopping areas as necessary. Readers should be aware that this is not a statutory function, and the Council as Highway Authority is not obliged to provide such facilities for residents, in fact many local authorities in Wales do not provide individual persons parking bays. Our highways and engineering budgets are finite and the money available has to be spread over a range of duties and priorities including a large number of statutory functions, such as highway maintenance and specifically, at this time, the repair of pot holes on the highway.
The introduction of an individual disabled persons parking bay requires a Traffic Regulation Order to be implemented. This is a lengthy and costly exercise involving advertisements in the press and on site and a consultation procedure. The total costs of this procedure and the site works for the lining and signing is approximately £1,200. If a batch of 10 applications is processed at the same time, this cost can be reduced to approximately £700 per site.
The demand for individual disabled persons parking bays has grown over the years with the increase in the allocation of blue badges to disabled drivers, and more recently due to the introduction of our parking controls under our Civil Parking Enforcement arrangements.
After the local elections in 2012, the waiting time for applicants wishing to benefit from a disabled parking bay had risen to over 3 years. As Leader of the Council I wished to address this backlog, initially on a one-off basis, to provide a shorter timescale for new applicants. I therefore instructed that the 37 approved applications that were on the waiting list be addressed during 2012/13, effectively introducing more disabled parking bays in one year than had ever been the case previously.
Currently, we have 10 approved applications for implementation in financial year 2013/14 and these are being progressed. We now have a waiting list of 6 approved applications, compared to the 37 when we formed the new administration in 2012. Officers are currently also assessing a further 17 applications, only a proportion of which are likely to meet our approval criteria.
It is extremely difficult to meet the ever increasing demand for disabled parking bays, particularly when the highway network is becoming more and more congested with all motorists struggling to find available spaces on the highway to park. Despite this we continue to provide a service, now with a shorter waiting list, where many other Welsh councils do not. If Alun had cared to look into this matter in more detail before penning his comments in this newspaper he would perhaps have established that this is not the service over which to make his point about the funding arrangements for the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
Yes, like all councils we would like more funding. However, we will continue to endeavour to provide a wide range of non-statutory services for our residents, balancing these against the large number of statutory commitments that we will continue to have regardless of our budget settlement.