Decision : Upheld
Decision date : 23 May 2011
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council did not take into account its legal duties to people with disabilities when it introduced car parking charges for blue badge holders.
The Ombudsman said that the Council’s duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA) were not brought to the attention of decision makers, who had insufficient information about the likely impact on people with disabilities, and there was no evidence that they were properly considered.
‘Mrs W’ was in her 70s and has mobility problems that caused her to take longer than other car park users to undertake day-to-day tasks such as shopping. As a blue badge holder, she was previously entitled to free use of an off-street car park. In April 2010, as part of the budgetary process and linked to the transfer of its car parks to a contractor, the Council introduced charges for blue badge holders. She considered that the charge would mean she paid more than she would do if she was not disabled.
The Ombudsman concluded that Mrs W had lost a benefit as a result of the Council making its decision without taking account of all relevant factors, and recommended that the Council should:
- retake its decision and ensure that it had due regard to its duties in future, and
- apologise to Mrs W and pay her £100 for her time and trouble in pursuing her complaint.
For legal reasons, the names used in the report were not the real ones.