60 Second Briefing New Scheme to Combat Misuse of Blue Badge Parking
Introduction A new blue badge design, which is harder to forge, came into force on 1st January, 2012, alongside other measures to crack down on drivers who abuse the disabled parking system.
Background The Blue Badge scheme was introduced in the early 1970â€™s throughout the UK. It allows drivers with mobility problems to park close to the facilities they need. There are currently an estimated 2.5 million blue badges in circulation, but the system is open to misuse as the badges are made from card and hand written. The government believes that blue badge fraud and misuse costs the UK ÂŁ46m a year.
Combating the Fraud New electronically printed badges, much like a driving licence, are now being introduced with built in security features to cut down on misuse and forgery. The badges will also have a method to easily determine who is eligible to use them. Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "Motorists who pretend to be disabled to get some free parking are frankly disgraceful". "They prevent real blue badge holders from using parking bays designed for those genuinely in need and they cheat the vast majority of road users who play fair when they park their cars." Mr Baker said: "Our new blue badge will be as secure as a banknote and anyone thinking of faking it can forget it. "We are also tightening up on enforcement and eligibility so there will be no way to scam the system." National Community Safety Network Ltd Share our Vision for Safer Communities www.community-safety.net
Scotland's Transport Minister Keith Brown said the system had been "open to abuse and misuse by far too many". He said: "This causes real day-to-day problems for those genuine users of the scheme who need the use of disabled spaces but find them taken up, often by vehicles displaying fake or misused badges. We want to make sure that these crucially important parking places are used for the purpose for which they were intended - to help severely-disabled people retain their independence and live full lives." Helen Dolphin, director of policy and campaigns at Disabled Motoring UK, said: "After years of campaigning for improvements to the blue badge scheme, I'm delighted that changes that make the scheme fit for the 21st Century have been introduced." Anne MacLean, convener of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, also welcomed the changes. She said: "The blue badge is an essential service for disabled people and this package of reforms to help prevent abuse, protect the parking rights of genuine badge holders and provide a more consistent and uniform approach is great news." The new blue badge is expected to be introduced in Wales in April 2012. The old-style badges will be retained in Northern Ireland for the time being.
Additional Measures In addition to the blue badges a number of other changes are being introduced. These should bring about faster renewals, less abuse and more operational efficiency savings of up to ÂŁ20 million a year. The new measures include powers for local authorities to test for eligibility of applicants and to seize badges they think are being misused. Badge holders will also be able to apply for and renew badges online using Directgov, as well as having access to a new national helpline number. From April 2012 it will be also be possible to report lost and stolen badges online. The scheme will also be extended to include more disabled children under three years of age and severely disabled Armed Forces personnel and veterans; together with removing residency requirements for disabled service personnel and their families who are posted overseas on UK bases.
Further Information Find out more about the scheme and how applicants can apply on line, via the following government websites. http://www.dft.gov.uk/topics/access/blue-badge/ http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/disabledpeople/motoringandtransport/dg_4001061 National Community Safety Network Ltd Share our Vision for Safer Communities www.community-safety.net