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Blue badge change brings call for more disabled parking spaces

Blue badge change brings call for more disabled parking spaces
8th September 2019 Ian Streets

Disability charities have welcomed the expansion of the blue badge parking scheme, but they have also urged local authorities to ensure there are enough disabled parking spaces to cope.
Changes to the scheme allowing people with hidden disabilities to apply for blue badges took effect at the end of August.
Currently, about 2.35 million people with physical disabilities in England have a blue badge and the change – the biggest shake-up of the scheme since it was introduced nearly 50 years ago – extends it to people with such conditions as dementia, autism or anxiety disorders.
However, not everyone with hidden disabilities will qualify for a badge, as it will still be up to local councils to decide if an applicant meets the eligibility criteria.
Ceri Smith, policy and campaigns manager at Scope, welcomed the move, saying it would make a “real difference” to disabled people with invisible impairments.
But she added: “In order for it to work, it’s vital that councils issue blue badges to people who are newly eligible to apply.
“More also needs to be done by councils to ensure that there are enough allocated blue badge spaces near shops and amenities to meet increasing demand.”
Another charity, Disabled Motoring UK, which campaigns for disabled drivers and blue badge holders, said the increase in demand “may undermine the entire scheme and render it not fit for purpose”.
A statement from the charity said: “The end result may mean it will let down the people it was originally intended to help as well as disabled people with hidden disabilities. We predict that we will be contacted more and more by disabled people who find their blue badge completely meaningless as they will be unable to find adequate parking because it will be so oversubscribed.
“We implore all local authorities and private parking operators to take this change seriously, review their disabled parking provision and stress the importance that they all enforce disabled parking properly so that disabled bays are kept free only for genuine blue badge holders.”
The Department of Transport said councils will get £1.7m in the first year of the programme, to help with the expected spike in applications but it added that councils may need to review parking provision to increase the number of spaces available.
The Local Government Association said: “”Councils know that blue badges are a vital lifeline for disabled people which help them get out and about to visit shops or family and friends and many have already been approving badges for people with non-physical disabilities.
“Councils regularly review parking provision, including both public and private, in order to help meet the needs of the public, including those with blue badges.
“Overall provision will depend on private operators, council resources as well as competing demand for road space and public land.”

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