Free parking for disabled drivers could be stopped at a town centre car park if the council goes ahead with plans to install barriers at the site.

Palace Gardens Multi-storey Car Park in Sarnesfield Road, Enfield Town, is currently free to use for holders of blue badges – parking permits issued to people with severe mobility problems.

But that will change if barriers are placed at the exits so only drivers who have paid can leave the car park.

In November 2013, the council introduced an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system to record the number plates of vehicles entering and leaving the car park.

This was intended to crack down on drivers flouting parking rules without the need to have enforcement staff patrolling the site.

But the council says the Government’s failure to roll out a wider ANPR system for the public sector means it has limited access to drivers’ details based on their number plates – and this is stopping it from enforcing parking rules.

Putting automated barriers at the exit will help solve the problem – but because the system will not be able to tell which drivers hold blue badges, disabled people will have to pay parking charges.

Council bosses prefer this approach to a pay-and-display system, which they think would be unpopular with motorists and require more staff monitoring the site.

They also think automatic barriers are preferable to a staffed booth at the exit, as this could hold up traffic and lead to “significant human resource costs”.

But the leader of Enfield Council’s Conservative Group, Cllr Joanne Laban, called for a re-think of the proposals.

Cllr Laban said: “The Palace Gardens car park is used by people from across the borough and beyond when they visit Enfield Town.

“Enfield Council specifically chose to change to the ANPR system in 2013. There were problems at that time about blue badge holders’ free parking, so it seems like deja vu.

“Enfield Council needs to stop plans to remove free parking for blue badge holders, who are some of our most vulnerable residents.”

The council has not made a final decision on the system it will use and wants the public to give their views in a consultation, which is available here.

It says all other council car parks in Enfield Town will remain free of charge for blue badge holders, as will parking in pay-and-display bays on the streets.

Blue badge holders are also able to park on roads with single yellow lines and in controlled parking zones in the town.

On Sundays, Palace Gardens Multi-Storey Car Park is free to use for all vehicles that are parked for up to three hours.

People have until November 21 to respond to the consultation. Any changes to the parking system are expected to be made early next year.

Enfield Council has been approached for comment.