I hate blue badges. Well that’s a bit strong, I dislike them, well that’s not right either. I actually have no problem at all with the blue badge concept, a person with mobility issues or a physical or mental disability should be allowed bigger parking bays. They absolutely should be allowed to be nearer whatever attraction they are visiting. I’m not sure I agree with free parking, but lets leave that for another blog!
My problem is the wide scale abuse of the system, and what seems to me poor regulation. We have all seen a Porsche or Ferrari in a disabled bay because the owner doesn’t want any one else parking too close. That’s not what I’m talking about here. What I don’t like is the handing out of passes to everyone with a creaky sandal.
For example I was chatting to a gentleman, not so long ago, let’s call him Bob. Now Bob explained to me how due to being overweight he required a heart bypass. He was given a disabled badge and ever since he hasn’t had to pay for parking (on street) and regularly uses all the advantages of bigger and closer disabled parking bays. Bob runs his own business and is fairly successful, so he doesn’t need the free parking… but as I said let’s leave the free parking for now.
What I haven’t mentioned is that Bob had his heart bypass six years ago. The reason he has never given his disabled badge back? The council have never asked for it, Bob openly admits he doesn’t need it. He has changed his lifestyle, he is relatively fit and healthy, he goes walking at the weekends.
What he doesn’t realise is that there are limited disabled bays, and someone somewhere really needs that space. DDA regulations (Disability Discrimination Act) state that 3% of all car parking spaces should be disabled. In a 500-space car park that’s only 15 bays!
I see disabled badges for all sorts now, even though the DDA guidelines clearly state to qualify for a badge you must “have a permanent and substantial disability which means they cannot walk, or which makes walking very difficult:” a bad knee in my opinion does not qualify.
I think we have developed a culture of blame and laziness, who decides if you are disabled or not? And who regulates that decision? But most importantly who carries out a review six months or a year down the line. Effectively being dishonest with your disabled badge is stealing from the government. Too extreme? Maybe but you can see my point.
A recent survey suggested that at least 50% or all blue badges are being used dishonestly. That’s one in every two badge holders!
There needs to be regulation, and that’s across the board, some councils the persons picture is on the badge, along with the registration number of the vehicle. Others a barely visible expiry date.
If we are going to have disabled bays, and going to ‘police’ them then lets have a solid back office system to support the ground teams. After all aren’t we supposed to be providing good customer service?
Anyway that’s enough about blue badges, I’ve got to go and finish my letter to the council, I have shin splints again…