COUNCIL chiefs are progressing with plans to introduce charges for blue badge holders to use off-street surface car parks in Southampton.

At present blue badge holders can park for free in Southampton City Council's (SCC) surface car parks for any length of time.

The local authority said it is proposing the change in an attempt to ensure bays are not dominated by any one user for prolonged periods of time.

An initial consultation took place last year and SCC agreed to engage further with disabled access consultee Spectrum.

The council's current plans are: n Blue badge holders are given a free hour for each paid hour in pay and display car parks and an additional hour for each permitted hour in limited waiting car parks.

n A level access pay and display machine to be in place in all car parks, with coin slots, card readers and ticket dispensers between 75cm and 120cm from ground level in line with guidance.

n Mayflower Park and the off-street parking on Cemetery Road along the southern end of the Common will not be included in the charge measures.

Blue badge holders will continue to be able to park in all on-street pay and display and permit parking bays free of charge for any length of time, excluding places which already have a limited waiting time.

The council's consultation period for the proposals runs until Friday, October 11. To make a comment on the plans, email or write to Highways Legal Team at Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LY.