DISABLED drivers in Bromsgrove will be charged to park in the town from the summer.

The charge will be introduced to coincide with the introduction of the Shop Mobility scheme which will enable disabled people to use buggies to get around the town.

Members of Bromsgrove District Council executive committee approved the charge despite a warning from officers that the scheme may not even cover its costs and is likely to generate bad publicity.

It is forecast that the charge will raise just £10,000 in the coming financial year and will not become self-financing for at lest another 12 months.

Keith Sherman, of Help the Aged in Bromsgrove, said he expected blue badge holders to be unhappy about the charge.

"There is a natural human reaction when people find that they have to pay for something that they have been used to having for free," said Mr Sherman.

"It will be hard for people having to cope with a disability and who are struggling on a limited or fixed income."

But the Chief Officer of Age Concern in the town said that he could personally see the logic in the charge.

"It seems reasonable that if someone is guaranteed a disabled parking space they should pay for it."

Bromsgrove District Council claims the charge is supported by a disabled group in the town on the basis that people with a disability did not want to the discriminated against by having free parking. However, the authority was unable to provide the name of the group.

John Moody, Head of Community Safety and Engineering, said that the charge would bring the authority in line with other local councils in Worcestershire.

Councillor Judy Marshall (Lab-Charford) who has been disabled since birth was shocked by the charge.

"I am disgusted. The disabled do not get many perks in life and being able to park free of charge makes a lot of difference to people who have a difficult life," said the 61-year-old councillor.