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MSP Robertson consults on blue badge misuse law
Scotland’s transport minister said disabled parking was a “lifeline” to thousands
An MSP has launched a consultation on a proposed law to crack down on the fraudulent use of blue disabled badges.
Dennis Robertson’s private members’ bill would see officials being given beefed up powers to confiscate badges which are not being correctly used. The blind MSP for Aberdeenshire West also wants a proper appeals process for applicants refused badges on eligibility grounds.
Mr Robertson said he was looking forward to hearing people’s views.
The SNP politician, who is a blue badge holder, added: “Finding suitable parking spaces, particularly in towns and cities, is difficult at any time.
“However, if you have a disability it can be even more difficult to find a parking space close to your destination, whether it is for work, education or leisure.”
Mr Robertson’s proposal has had backing from the equal opportunities committee of the Scottish Parliament.
Keith Brown, Scotland’s minister for transport and veterans, said the blue badge scheme was a “lifeline” for thousands of disabled people in Scotland and it made sense to consult on options for tightening enforcement powers.
He added: “This will enable consideration to be given to how best to ensure that these crucially important parking concessions are used for the purpose for which they were intended – to help severely disabled people retain their independence and live full lives.”
Council unveils new blue badge permit after thefts
Jan 16 2013 By Jane Harrison
Ealing Council has launched a new parking permit for blue badge holders to cut down on blue badge theft from cars parked overnight.
Disabled parking bays are given to people who have been allocated disabled parking bays outside their homes after demonstrating they have an exceptional need.
In the past drivers parked in a disabled bay had to display their badge all the time, including overnight. Many took them out overnight because they feared they would be stolen.
The new permit allows residents to park in any disabled bay in their street, without displaying their blue badge. Instead, a special permit is fixed to the windscreen, similar to a residents parking permit.
The permit can only be issued to a vehicle if it is registered in the name of the blue badge holder so it has no value to any other drivers.
The Ealing permits are designed to be used alongside the national blue badge scheme and any blue badge holder will still be able to park in any disabled bay, even if they don’t have one of the new disabled permits. Permit holders will still need blue badges to park in disabled bays on other streets.
Blue badge theft is a growing problem with 162 reported as stolen in Ealing in the last 12 months. Stolen badges are used fraudulently or sold on the black market.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for environment and customer services, said: “Blue badge theft is a real problem and I’m pleased that we have been able to act on the concerns of residents and introduce these new permits.
“When blue badges are stolen, it causes a great deal of inconvenience and stress to disabled residents who have to deal with the damage caused to their vehicle, as well as apply for a replacement badge. Our new permits will work alongside the existing blue badge scheme and help stop these fraudsters.”
Permits are only available to residents who have already been allocated a disabled parking bay and cost £30 a year. To apply, or find out more, go to www.ealing.gov.uk and click on parking.
£750 fine for cheating Blue Badge
Wednesday, 09 January 2013
BROMLEY Council continued its crackdown on Blue Badge fraud when it prosecuted a local restaurateur.
The 57-year-old man, who lives in Bromley, was found to be using his disabled son's badge, even when the child was not in the car. The man was given a 12 month conditional discharge at Bromley Magistrates Court and ordered to pay costs of £750.
Councillor Colin Smith said: “The message again goes out to those minded to try and cheat the system to desist. If you don’t, you are increasingly likely to be caught, fined, and named and shamed on these pages too. Is it really worth that for a few pence in a parking meter or a slightly longer walk?
"On behalf of every law abiding taxpayer, I would like to thank all those people who have already reported misuse as well as encourage anyone witnessing Blue Badge fraud to please report the incident in complete confidence to the council’s parking team."
If you suspect a badge is being misused, please call the Blue Badge fraud and misuse hotline on 020 8313 4094 or report it online at www.bromley.gov.uk.
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Shropshire woman prosecuted for misuse of Blue Badge
Shropshire Council’s public protection officers are reminding relatives and friends of Blue Badge holders that they are not allowed to use Blue Badges to park in any designated parking places for people with disabilites, unless the Blue Badge holder is actually with them.
The advice follows a successful prosecution taken by Shropshire Council under the Road Traffic Act 1984.
On 4 January 2013 at Shrewsbury Magistrates Court, Stella Taylor, 51, from Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to charges relating to the misuse of a Blue Badge. Taylor was ordered to pay a total of £537. The offences took place between 22 March 2012 and 10 July 2012.
The case was investigated following suspicions raised by the council’s civil enforcement officers that Taylor was misusing a Blue Badge belonging to a family member. During the investigation, it became clear that Taylor used the Blue Badge to avoid paying parking charges in Shrewsbury town centre.
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s public protection service manager for safer and stronger communities, said:
“Whilst we have prosecuted in this particular case, ultimately we do not want to take this level of enforcement action against individuals. However, we have a duty to protect genuine Blue Badge holders, and consequently we will give serious consideration to prosecuting where we find evidence of improper use by people who are not entitled to use a Blue Badge. Shropshire Council officers are committed to patrolling the streets across the county to ensure that the Blue Badge Scheme is not abused, and we will take enforcement action where this is necessary.”
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for public protection and enforcement, said:
“Blue Badges are issued to assist the holder by allowing them, or the driver of the vehicle the holder is travelling in, to park closer to amenities. Whilst people who park in designated spaces for people with disabilities when they are not entitled to do so may feel that they are doing nothing wrong, they are committing an offence; but more importantly, they are also preventing a genuine person with disabilities from using that space. I strongly encourage everyone who has access to a Blue Badge to bear this in mind, and only to use it when they are legally entitled to do so.”
For further advice about the Blue Badge Scheme, or to report suspected cases of misuse, contact Shropshire Council on 0345 678 9014 or access further information from the council’s website here.
Blue badge disabled parking to be extended in Wales
The blue badge parking scheme for disabled people is being extended to those with conditions such as autism, the Welsh government has announced.
The badges will now be offered to those with 'severe cognitive impairments'.
They will also be automatically available for those on the new system of personal independence payments (Pip) which come into force next spring.
Welsh ministers are also examining whether injured armed forces personnel could benefit from the scheme.
Around 230,000 people currently hold the badges, which are free of charge to physically disabled people.
In March 2012 there were 10,802 people of working age registered with learning disabilities in Wales but the number of those eligible for blue badges will not be known until Pip assessments take place.
"Extending eligibility to the Blue Badge scheme is a key element of our commitment to modernising the scheme," said transport minister Carl Sargeant.
"This commitment has been reflected by the fact that Wales is the first country to extend eligibility for a blue badge to people with cognitive impairments."
Changes to the scheme would mean that the carer of a person with severe learning disabilities could now use the blue badge to when driving them around.
The scheme will also include those who need the help of another person because of sensory issues, or use an assistance dog.
Another big change is the linking of the blue badge scheme to the new Pip payments. The new benefit will replace the existing disability living allowance in April.
Anyone aged between 16 and 64 and receiving the new benefit will automatically be eligible for a blue badge.
The Welsh government has also confirmed that it has been holding discussions with the UK Ministry of Defence on the issue of injured members of the armed services.
The government said it wanted to "examine the case for extending automatic blue badge eligibility to seriously injured armed forces personnel" who receive an award under the Armed Forces Independence Scheme.
The new rules on eligibility will come into force on 1 April, 2013
Confusion in Newport over who gets disabled parking!
11:10am Monday 26th November 2012 in Gwent news
New figures have revealed that nearly half of the people in Newport do not understand the rules for eligibility for Blue Badge Disability parking.
The Welsh Government released the figures as part of its Space Invaders campaign to promote the new Blue Badge scheme aimed at deterring people from abusing the scheme.
The survey on behalf of the Welsh Government found that of 1009 people, 49 percent were unaware that people who do not use a wheelchair are eligible to use the Blue Badge parking spaces.
Terminally ill lung-cancer sufferer refused disabled parking badge by Wandsworth Council.
12:40pm Wednesday 17th October 2012 in News
A lung-cancer sufferer given only months to live was refused a disabled parking badge because the council claimed her problems were with breathing instead of mobility.
When Wandsworth Council finally buckled under pressure from the local MP it was too late, she was already admitted to Trinity Hospice.
Julie Green, 73, of Roehampton, held a blue badge because she used a motor-scooter and suffered from degenerative arthritis but when new guidelines came into force in January she needed to reapply and was shocked when, after an appointment with a council-employed occupational therapist (OT), she was refused.
In addition, the initial blue badge refusal letter was lost by the council and Julie’s friends were forced to chase it for her.
A letter sent by the council stated: “A badge is only issued if the applicant meets the relevant eligibility criteria of the blue badge scheme.
“Applicants’ medical conditions that do not have an impact on their mobility remain outside the remit of the OT and the scheme itself.”
When the Oxfam volunteer of 14 years had an x-ray at Kingston Hospital to gain evidence for her case, she was told she had advanced lung cancer as well as tumours on her spine, with doctors giving her only months to live.
Even this terrible diagnosis failed to persuade the council, which continued to refuse her claims, before a letter from MP Justine Greening pushed the authority to issue a blue badge.