Blue badge parking measures introduced to combat fraud

 
Blue badge parking card for people with disabilities on a car dashboard. There are an estimated 2.5 million blue badges in circulation nationally.

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Measures to crack down on drivers who abuse the disabled parking system will come into force in England and Scotland from 1 January.

There are an estimated 2.5 million blue badges in circulation, allowing drivers to park on yellow lines as well as avoid parking and congestion charges.

But blue badge fraud is estimated to cost the UK £46m a year.

New badges will have added security features and the method to determine people's eligibility is being improved.

It is hoped the redesign will make blue badges harder to forge or alter.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "Motorists who pretend to be disabled to get some free parking are frankly disgraceful".

"They prevent real blue badge holders from using parking bays designed for those genuinely in need and they cheat the vast majority of road users who play fair when they park their cars."

'Abuse and misuse'

Previously, blue badges were made from card and hand written, but from 1 January disabled drivers will be able to apply for an electronically printed badge, much like a driving licence.

It will have a unique hologram, digital photo and serial number allowing parking attendants to check for genuine badges more easily through the windscreen.

Transport Minister Norman Baker: "This is a hi-tech new badge... If anyone's thinking of forging it, forget it"

Mr Baker said: "Our new blue badge will be as secure as a banknote and anyone thinking of faking it can forget it.

"We are also tightening up on enforcement and eligibility so there will be no way to scam the system."

Another measure being introduced from 1 January is the ability for badge holders to apply for renewals online.

The changes will see local authorities gain more powers to seize badges they think are being misused and tests for eligibility will be run by councils rather than GPs.

Scotland's Transport Minister Keith Brown said the system had been "open to abuse and misuse by far too many".

He said: "This causes real day-to-day problems for those genuine users of the scheme who need the use of disabled spaces but find them taken up, often by vehicles displaying fake or misused badges.

"We want to make sure that these crucially important parking places are used for the purpose for which they were intended - to help severely-disabled people retain their independence and live full lives."

Disabled driver, Lisa Egan and Paul Slowey, a blue badge fraud investigator explain the extent of the fraud

Helen Dolphin, director of policy and campaigns at Disabled Motoring UK, said: "After years of campaigning for improvements to the blue badge scheme, I'm delighted that changes that make the scheme fit for the 21st Century have been introduced."

Anne MacLean, convener of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, also welcomed the changes.

She said: "The blue badge is an essential service for disabled people and this package of reforms to help prevent abuse, protect the parking rights of genuine badge holders and provide a more consistent and uniform approach is great news."

The scheme, which was introduced in the early 1970s, operates throughout the UK and is managed by local authorities. It differs slightly in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The new blue badge is expected to be introduced in Wales in April 2012. Northern Ireland is retaining the old-style badge for the time being.

 

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  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 319.

    i am disabled, have a blue badge, but do not use disabled parking spaces as i cannot walk more than a few yards.
    as it is, i park in the general spaces and get a friend to go in for me, or shop online.
    anyone who is capable of going into a supermarket and wandering around getting their messages is not disabled.
    this scheme should be for wheelchair users only.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 312.

    The system is abused not doubt. But young, abled bodied people need these badges too. My partner had cystic fibrosis so couldn't walk far, but looked completely able bodied. We got torrents of abuse for using the badge for using it correctly. Just because he was young, doesn't mean he had it illegally.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 291.

    I've just spent 15 minutes driving around the rather large Monks Cross shopping centre in York trying to get a space, but it is full (with the exception of the rows of disabled spaces). At times like these blue badges I imagine are quite valuable.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 290.

    When I was last in London I saw notice on a disabilty parking bay saying something to the effect "if you take my parking place, please take my disability too". I thought it was very appropriate in making the culprits aware of what they are doing.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 281.

    I live on a corner with double yellows outside and it is a daily occurance for a blue badge holder to park on the lines and spritely climb out of his car and wander to the bookie on the opposite corner.

    Where is the auditing of who gets a badge, who keeps their badge if circumstances change and who needs to be in the car for the badge to be valid?

 

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