Scotland politics

Disabled space misuse targeted in MSP's Holyrood bill

Disabled parking
Image caption Disability groups say the misuse of parking badges for the disabled is widespread

Plans to give councils the power to crack down on misuse of parking badges for disabled people have been launched.

Under a bill proposed by SNP MSP Dennis Robertson, councils would be able to cancel or confiscate badges that are being abused.

Disability groups welcomed the plans, claiming that misuse of the "blue badge" scheme was widespread.

Transport Minister Keith Brown, who supports the bill, said the proposals "made sense".

The blue badge scheme provides parking concessions for people with restricted mobility who have difficulty using public transport.

The bill proposes local authorities should have the power to cancel badges which have been reported lost or stolen and confiscate those being misused.

It also provides a review process for applications turned down on eligibility grounds.

Misuse of a blue badge is already an offence, but enforcement powers currently lie with police.

Badges not returned

Research by Transport Scotland, which interviewed more than 800 badge holders, found 83% had witnessed misuse of the scheme or parking spaces for disabled people.

A report by Audit Scotland also found about 4,000 badges belonging to people who had died had not been returned to councils by their families or carers.

Mr Robertson said it was thought that many of these badges were still being used, and in some cases people were reapplying when the badge expired.

He added: "Blue badge misuse is socially unacceptable as it prevents badge holders from accessing the on-street parking concessions to which they are entitled.

"Tackling misuse will help disabled badge holders access services in the community and lead independent lives.

"This has been driven by people with disability themselves. They are angry and frustrated at what is happening. We need to stop this third party misuse."

Transport Minister Keith Brown said it made sense to confiscate badges that were not valid or were being used illegally by a third party.

He added: "The proposals should reduce misuse of the badge and help disabled people access the parking concessions to which they are entitled."

Mr Robertson and Mr Brown said they did not anticipate any additional costs for councils in dealing with enforcement.

Jackie Maceira, convener of the Scottish Disability Equality Forum, said he believed misuse of badges was widespread.

"There are over 4,000 blue badges that are used which belong to people who are deceased," he added.

He said powers to confiscate would give local authorities the "teeth" they needed to enforce the rules of the scheme.

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