A DISABLED pensioner fears blue badge drivers like could be hit with parking fines due to being unaware they need to pay to use designated bays in the town.

Francis Sharples, from Prestolee, says he was shocked to find he had to pay to park in the disabled bays at Bolton Market after he was alerted by a fellow blue badge holder and confirmed it with a traffic warden.

Like all car parks in the town centre, Bolton Market’s is run by National Car Parks (NCP), which charges blue badge holders the usual rate.

However, the notices telling disabled drivers they must pay is at the meter rather than next to the designated bays.

The retiree says disabled people will not see the sign near the pay point, as many still believe they do not have to pay.

The 73-year-old said: “If it’s a disabled bay my main concern is that a lot of disabled people don’t go to the pay machine where it says we have to pay.

“I could have been fined myself if it wasn’t for the couple next to me telling me about it. You don’t go to the pay machines if you’re disabled because you don’t think you need to.”

“I feel there will be a lot of disabled people getting tickets they don’t deserve.”

And the great-grandfather, is now urging NCP to rethink its policy of charging disabled drivers for using its car parks.

He said: “I don’t think they should charge people with blue badges for parking in disabled bays.

“The blue badge scheme, as far as I know, means you get concessions for parking on double-yellow lines and in disabled bays.

An NCP spokesman said: “In order to use the disabled parking bays on this car park you must display a blue badge alongside a ticket for your parking.

“Disabled drivers must pay for their parking on this car park, and our signage clearly states that normal charges apply for disabled drivers.

“We have four signs with this information on, and these particular signs have been in place since our latest sign refreshment over a year ago.”