SEAFORD: MP leads crackdown on Blue Badge abuse

SEAFORD MP Norman Baker has enlisted support to launch a crackdown on drivers who abuse the disabled parking system at the expense of genuine Blue Badge holders.

Millions benefit from the scheme which provides convenient access to parking spaces and, in turn, access to shops, train stations and other facilities.

But Mr Baker said the badge has been subject to significant fraud recently and as a result cost the taxpayer £46m a year.

He has seen parking spaces which should be reserved for those with a disability, being taken up by illegitimate badge holders instead.

It is estimated that due to the level of fraud, 50 per cent of badge holders struggle to find disabled parking spaces.

Earlier this month and on Mr Baker’s behalf, the chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, Dai Powell, and Director of Policy and Campaigns at Mobilise, Helen Dolphin, launched reforms to target motorists who abuse the system

The system has not been reformed since the 1970s, but the government is seeking to change that by:

r Providing local authorities with an on-the-spot power to recover badges cancelled and misused.

r Sharing administration between authorities – including an online application facility – resulting in faster renewals, reduced abuse and operational efficiency savings of up to £20 million a year.

r Replacing handwritten badges with standard electronic ones which are harder to alter and forge.

r Proving independent mobility assessments to determine eligibility, including where previously that assessment was carried out by a GP; and support for this by giving local authorities control of National Health Service spend on Blue Badge assessments

r Extending the scheme to more disabled children under three years of age and severely disabled Armed Forces personnel and veterans; and removing residency requirements for disabled service personnel and their families who are posted overseas on UK bases.

Mr Baker said, “It is simply not right that those who have a legitimate need for a Blue Badge are being prevented from utilising the convenience it should provide because of fraudulent behaviour by some.

“I know that Blue Badges make a clear difference in the quality of life for many but that difference needs to be greater and we need a system to ensure legitimate Badge holders can access the parking spaces to which they are entitled.

“These reforms seek to achieve that and ensure the system is not open to abuse, which is currently happening to the detriment of the many honest Badge holders.”