A CHARITY has hit out at the owners of the Riverside Shopping Centre for allowing the car park operator to charge disabled badge holders for parking.
Evesham Riverside Shopmobility (ERS), which has been based on the top floor of the car park since 2000, has told the Observer its members have been hit hard by the introduction of charges for Blue Badge holders.
Since the charity opened 17 years ago, Blue Badge holders have been able to park for free. However, since the the start of April when Euro Car Parks, who operate the car park on behalf of shopping centre managers Capita, introduced a new system, badge holders have had to pay.
The charity has recently held talks with the Mayor of Evesham, Coun Fred Kaler, who previously spoke to the Observer about his anger over the car park changes, and the town’s MP Nigel Huddleston.
ERS Trustees’ Chairman, Liz Griffin, said: “No one consulted us about potential implications for our members, customers and other users with mobility issues.
“Many of our members are concerned they don’t have time to park, access a mobility scooter or wheelchair and buy their ticket.
“Others just can’t reach or operate the machine. We have members who used to come by taxi, but the taxi drivers now won’t risk a penalty.
“The new charges also mean our staff and volunteers now have to pay to work for us.”
“It’s been a pleasure to visit Evesham Shopmobility and to see for myself the great work they do, so I am alarmed to hear about the impact of the recent changes to parking arrangements and will be expressing my concerns to the owners on behalf of all those affected.
“I was especially concerned to hear there was very little consultation before these changes were made. No consideration appears to have been given to the varied challenges the machines and their locations could present to people who use Shopmobility.”
Deputy Manager Tracey Bradshaw said: “People value us because we help them maintain their independence to shop, bank or meet friends on their own.
“These changes have alarmed many by placing an extra burden on them, when their lives are difficult enough.
“If we had been asked we could have explained some of the issues that needed to be sorted out.”
A Capita spokesman, said: “We are aware of these concerns and are working with Euro Car Parks and Evesham Riverside Shopmobility to address them.”