THE cost of a blue badge, which provides free parking for disabled and chronically sick people, is to increase from £2 to £9 per badge. The badges are valid for three years

The charge made for a replacement badge, if lost, stolen or damaged, will rise from £2 to £5, Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet decided yesterday (Tuesday).

Cambridgeshire currently has over 32,000 blue badge holders. Each year the council issues around 11,000 new or renewed badges.

The increase follows changes to the widely-abused scheme, including a standard charge to local authorities of £4.60 per badge, which includes production, postage and anti-fraud measures, including a record of the badge details on a national database.

The £9 charge will mean Cambridgeshire residents will pay less than the majority of applicants across the UK with most, including neighbouring authorities, already charging the maximum £10 allowed under the new arrangements, the cabinet heard.

County council deputy leader Councillor Mac McGuire said: “The blue badge scheme provides parking concessions which help disabled people to travel independently and access shops or amenities which is important for their wellbeing and quality of life.

“Research carried out nationally showed that the majority of people were supportive of local authorities being able to charge more for blue badges and to introduce a fee that better reflected the cost of administering such schemes.

“By increasing the charge in Cambridgeshire to £9 we will still be charging less than many other local authorities across the country, and the increase locally equates to just £2.33 a year extra over the three-year life of a badge.”