AN EVESHAM charity has been left delighted after parking chiefs performed a u-turn on a controversial decision to charge disabled drivers to park at the Riverside Shopping Centre.
Members of Evesham Riverside Shopmobility were left stunned when Euro Car Parks, the new owners of the centre’s car park unveiled new charges for disabled blue badge holders last month.
The decision sparked criticism from the charity which has been based on the top floor of the car park since 2000.
Evesham Riverside Shopmobility members and disabled blue badge holders are normally able to park free but, as the Observer reported last month, the privilege was set to be scrapped.
However, Shopmobility members will now be able to park free for up to three hours from Monday (May 15) following a change of heart from centre managers Capita.
Disabled blue badge holders, who are not Shopmobility members, will still have to pay to park in the shopping centre car park.
In a letter to the charity’s trustees, Capita, who manage the shopping centre on behalf of owners Aviva, said they were restoring the three-hour free parking.
Shopping centre bosses added they did not wish to ‘disadvantage’ Shopmobility members and customers.
As well as the reversal in charges, waiting times on entry have been increased to 15 minutes to allow taxis and friends and family to drop off people with mobility issues.
A console is also being installed in the Shopmobility unit where members will be able to enter their car registration numbers, as some members weren’t able to use the new parking machines installed by Euro Car Parks.
Shopmobility chairman of trustees, Liz Griffin, told the Observer: “We are delighted that the shopping centre management and Euro Car Parks have responded so swiftly to our concerns and that we can reassure our customers of a return to three hours free parking.
“We have been providing a service from here since our launch in 2000 and our only aim is to help everyone get out and about to enjoy the amenities of our beautiful town,” she added.