Northern Ireland

Blue badges: Department for Infrastructure works to clear backlog

Disabled parking sign
Image caption One woman told the BBC she has been waiting 14 weeks for a renewal of a badge for her son, who has Down's Syndrome

The Department for Infrastructure has said it is working to clear a backlog of application forms for blue badges.

The permits allow people with disabilities to park nearer to where they are going, whether that is in a hospital car park or a shopping centre.

One County Down woman told the BBC she has been waiting for 14 weeks for a renewal of a badge for her son, who has Down's Syndrome and mobility problems.

A spokesperson for the department said the backlog was "reducing daily".

Lorraine, whose son Joseph is 12 years old, said she had applied for the renewal of their blue badge in May, but was told she was on a waiting list.

'Important'

"When I spoke to staff, what they did say was we could continue to use the expired badge, but not in hospitals, shopping centres or private car parks," she told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"But that's exactly the places where it's really important to have it."

"Joseph can't walk very far. He often refuses to walk which means we have to park near facilities if we're going anywhere," she added.

The department said it was working "as quickly as possible" to process all applications and that it hoped to be back to normal service as soon as possible.

"People with blue badges can continue to use their existing badge provided it has an expiry date after 1 April 2016 and you have submitted a re-application form," a spokesperson said.

"Traffic attendants are aware of this and blue badge holders who have submitted a reapplication form after 1 April 2016 will not be penalised for using an expired blue badge.

"This does not apply on private roads and car parks."

This story will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme after 08:00 BST.

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