Liberal Democrats for Mid and West Wales have been questioned around their change in stance over the rules for Blue Badge parking after it was decided that Blue Badge holders will now have to pay for parking following last week’s budget meeting to bring an extra estimated £100,000 to the Council.

The Lib Dems say the decision was made to help plug next year’s funding gap of £18.458 million. Of that figure £10.652 million of this will be addressed by the council in a mixture of cuts, savings, and income generation.

Despite this, Conservative County Councillor, Iain McIntosh has questioned the Liberal Democrats over their change in stance on the rules surrounding Blue Badge parking which he believes is contradictory to previous tweets made by members of the party. He said: “In the past, Cllr Pete Roberts and his colleagues have described the introduction of charges for Blue Badge holders as ‘disgusting, hurting people with disabilities and on low incomes, affecting war pensioners and the blind’ but now they are in power, those concerns don’t appear to matter anymore. Jane Dodds MS even created a petition asking the public to sign it to show their opposition to the proposal. I have asked Jane Dodds where her petition is now, but haven’t received a response yet.”

Back in 2018, tweets by Welsh Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts read: “Conservatives want to end free parking for War Pensioners, those with the highest level of disability and the blind. We think these groups should be protected not used as easy cash by the Cabinet.”

Two days later, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Jane Dodds MS tweeted: “Powys County Council are changing the rules around Blue Badge holders to start charging them for parking in council owned car parks. This horrible move will hurt people with disabilities and on low incomes.”

Previous Liberal Democrat Senedd Member, Kirsty Williams also tweeted: “Paralympic legend Rob Davies thinks the Powys Conservatives and Independents proposals to introduce parking charges for disabled Blue Badge holders are ‘disgusting’.”

Speaking at last week’s Council meeting about the set of tweets from 2018, Cllr McIntosh said: “Of course, this never happened, it was never going to happen. It was another example of left wing scaremongering for political gain. But now the Liberal Democrats and Labour are in power, they want to introduce the very charges they previously described as ‘attacks on the disabled’, ‘horrible’, ‘disgusting’, ‘hurting people with disabilities’ and encouraged the public to sign a petition against it!”

He also expressed some other concerns with the changes. He said: “Both parties in power claim the introduction of these charges will bring an extra £100,000 to the Council, but I don’t believe they have taken into account the number of current Blue Badge holders who already pay to park.

“I also don’t think they have considered the cost of changing all car park ticket machines to make them low enough for people in wheelchairs, which could mean the cost of introducing these charges may be more than the extra revenue gained.”

Commenting on the Blue Badge parking situation, Welsh Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts said: “This has been a challenging budget, and the decisions we are taking are a direct result of the UK Conservative Government’s mishandling of the nation’s economy.

“Their actions have doubled the funding gap we had to fill this year compared to the 2022 forecast. That left us with hard choices to balance the budget.

“For each change to services, we have looked to limit the consequences. In this case, providing an additional hour for blue badge holders in recognition of the impact of their disabilities.

“Conservative councillors have been quick to criticise, but they could have amended the budget, removing this item and increasing council tax instead, the fact that they didn't speaks volumes.”

Jane Dodds MS was contacted for a response.