CIVIC Chiefs have dropped controversial plans to make disabled drivers pay to park in the New Forest.

Cabinet members have approved proposals to freeze parking charges for another 12 months and to continue not to charge Blue Badge owners.

New Forest District Council also announced plans to replace car parking meters and introduce a swipe card system to make parking in the New Forest easier.

As reported in yesterday’s Daily Echo, councillors were set to back down over the plans to charge Blue Badge holders A report to the district council’s ruling cabinet stated that Cllr Paul Vickers, cabinet for member for planning and transport, considered it would be an “unreasonable” change in the current economic climate.

The plans to introduce the charges in council-run car parks in a bid to boost the council’s annual income by at least £75,000 were revealed to the Daily Echo last year.

The charges were criticised by groups like Age Concern and New Forest Access for All and it even saw two Tory councillors, Chris Lagdon and Ron Scrivens defect to UKIP in protest against the controversial charges.

Council leader Barry Rickman said: “I’m very pleased we made the decision. It’s good for residents, good for businesses and the tourist industry and good for the disabled.”