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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Call for public probe after South Lakes council pays Cumbria residents £55,000 to settle lawsuit

UNDER-FIRE council bosses are resisting calls for a public investigation into the mistakes that led to taxpayer money being used to settle a legal dispute.

South Lakeland District Council has been heavily criticised following the announcement it agreed to spend around £55,000 to make the case disappear.

Ulverston councillor James Airey called for those responsible to be held accountable, while SLDC has said it plans to hold its investigation into the situation behind closed doors.

Cllr Airey said: “It is a huge waste of taxpayers’ money and we think it is totally disgraceful.”

SLDC admitted a number of mistakes were made that led to members agreeing to potentially unlawful changes to parking charges for disabled residents.

Cllr Airey said: “There has been a catalogue of errors and we have asked that there is an external investigation into this mismanagement.

“We think it would be ludicrous if they are investigating themselves.”

SLDC yesterday released a statement blaming “administration errors” for members opting to introduce parking charges for blue badge holders, a move that prompted fears the decision may have broken equality laws.

But it says changes have been made to prevent similar mistakes in future and there are no plans to stop charging disabled residents for parking.

A spokesman for the council said: “The situation has been resolved by disabled users getting an extra free hour.”

The council also confirmed it has no plans to hold a public inquiry into the matter.

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