THE ELDERLY are being discriminated against in Ilkley because of new virtual parking permits, it is being claimed.

The son in law of a 95-year-old resident has written to Bradford Council claiming that the scheme is "blatantly discriminatory" against the elderly and infirm. And he is calling for people with exceptional needs to be allowed to keep their paper permits.

The plea by Malcolm Jarvis is being backed by district councillor Anne Hawkesworth who is asking council leader Susan Hinchcliffe to intervene in the issue.

Cllr Hawkesworth argued: "It is not fair to be putting people through this stress. Elderly and also not that elderly."

She added: "I am disappointed that there is no indication of relenting for the few residents who will find the process impossible. Many are proud and don’t want to be having help. They don’t want to lose contact with visitors, but can’t work the system being introduced. Surely for these paper permits could be retained."

Mr Jarvis said: "I became involved because my wife needs to park outside her mother's property when delivering meals, shopping etc but has no smart phone to use the parking permit system that Bradford Council are proposing.

"My Mother-in-law wanted me to deal with the registration for a pass for all her visitors but I quickly found that it was impossible to do so. I wrote to the parking services but their response was quite cursory and said that she would have to ask a neighbour or family member to administer it for her. I consider that these proposals are clearly very discriminatory against the elderly and infirm and so far Parking Services seem more concerned about 'preserving their system' than trying to find a satisfactory solution."

In his letter to the council Mr Jarvis said his mother-in-law was becoming distressed about the proposed changes to the permits as visitors were her 'lifeline', and she wondered how she would be able to stay in her own home.

He said: "At 95 she has no computer, smartphone or any such device and because of her age her family who look after her are also not young. The main carer is her daughter who is 72, visits three to four times a week and uses a 10 year-old mobile phone with no internet access. The resident relies on family to deliver all her meals, shopping, gardening, maintenance of her property etc, and as none of them live in Ilkley this requires car journeys and the ability to park."

He added: "In the absence of a workable system I believe that it should be possible for certain residents (with exceptional needs) to continue with the current paper permit and to deny this could have serious implications for a council that blindly pushes forward with a scheme that is so blatantly discriminatory against the elderly and infirm."

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “There are many advantages of the virtual system including the environmental benefits of not producing paper permits, virtual permits can’t be altered, copied, lost or stolen. Also customers don’t have to remember to display them, they can alter the details when needed immediately and reminders will be sent automatically when they are due for renewal.

“We genuinely understand that changing to new systems can cause some worries and anxiety, however we are offering as much support as possible to make the transition as easy as possible.

“We acknowledge that some of our customers will require assistance with the management of their permits due to not having online access or not having a friend or family member who can help them with this.

“We already operate an online permit application system for the whole of the district, which has been running for over two years. This has worked really well and we have effectively supported individuals with no computer access to use this process.

“We do appreciate that this new virtual system requires regular management if you have changes to the vehicles needing a permit and will always assist those who are having problems. Customers are asked to telephone 01274 434300 so that we can explain the process and the evidence needed to support their application.”