There has been an angry reaction to proposals to end automatic free parking for people with disabilities at Navan Shopping Centre.
Disabled permit holders who don't use wheelchairs will have to pay €80 a year to park, but wheelchair users will continue to have free parking, according to the Shopping Centre.
The move has angered local people with disabilities and local representatives who have accused the Shopping Centre of discrimination against certain members of the disabled community.
Wheelchair user, Mary Carey is furious at the changes.
She doesn't drive herself, but her husband drives her and up to now they could park for free in the Shopping Centre car park.
"We have now been told we will have to pay €80 a year to park there," she says.
"I wouldn't go to the Shopping Centre often enough for that. There are weeks I might go once or twice and weeks I don't go at all. I'd be cheaper just using ordinary parking, but I need the disabled spaces with room at the sides for my chair.
"We haven't even been properly informed. We have to ring the intercom when we are leaving the shopping centre to say we have disabled parking, and when we did that recently we were told this would be happening."
Cllr Johnny Guirke said introduction of this charge will do two things, firstly Navan Shopping Centre will discriminate against a sector of the disabled community. Secondly, the families and friends of blue badge holders will take offence and most likely bring their custom to Blanchardstown where parking is free.
"The retail sector is an extremely competitive environment right now, Navan Shopping Centre would be better served rolling out initiatives that attract customers instead of shooting themselves in the foot by callously penalising a vulnerable cohort of people.
"I call on the new owners of Navan Shopping Centre to see sense and scrap the charge, there's more to be gained in the long term," he said.
Deputy Peadar Toibin said he had contacted the company this week and told them that this was a retrograde step.
"Many people with disabilities who do not have a wheelchair cannot choose other parking options in the town and are forced to use the Shopping Centre Car Park.
"I urge them to reconsider this decision," he said.
A spokesperson for NCPS who are now running the car park said they were introducing a new independent access lift in the Green Car Park, improving accessibility at the Centre.
"The local Irish Wheelchair Association in Navan was consulted on this matter and is supportive of this new addition. With this lift installation each user must now apply to receive a new swipe card which provides combined access to both the lift and the car park, these cards are currently being rolled out to customers as appropriate.
"In line with the Disabled Person's Parking Permit, the focus is to continue to provide free parking directly to individual customers with mobility impairments, in particular wheelchair users.
"NCPS is pleased to extend a discounted rate to non-wheelchair user permit holders for unlimited parking at €1.50 per week. This parking pass can be purchased by a permit holder for an annual rate of €80 or €20 per quarter.
"All applications will be considered on an individual basis through the Car Park Office."
He said these measures were introduced as a direct result of the lift improvement and to reduce the misuse of permits at the car park.
The changes does not affect access for all permit holders to disabled parking spaces at the Centre.
Mr Pat Mullaney, Centre Manager of Navan Town Centre, said: “We appreciate and value all custom at Navan Town Centre and we are confident that the continuance of free parking for wheelchair users and the discounted parking rate for all permit holders will be supported in an effort to maintain free and fair services.”