Blue badge abuse clampdown ahead of legislation change
The blue badge scheme provides an essential service for disabled people by allowing access to parking bays which are normally closer to work, shops and other community services. This parking access often makes the difference as to whether people with mobility problems can live their lives as fully as they can.
The Scottish Government hopes that by providing these additional powers to confiscate badges and cancel lost or stolen badges, people will think twice before misusing them.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:
“Blue badge misuse is socially unacceptable as it prevents the 228,000 legitimate badge holders across Scotland from accessing the on-street parking concessions to which they are entitled.
"Granting extra powers for local authorities to tackle blue badge misuse and confiscate badges that are not valid or are being used illegally by a third party for their own benefit will allow disabled badge holders to access services in the community and lead independent lives.”
Research conducted by Transport Scotland in 2012 showed that 76% of BB holders would go out less often if they were without their badge. Many also felt they wouldn’t be able to go out at all.
Dennis Robertson, MSP who was responsible for taking the legislation forward, said:
“We need this legislation because people think that third party misuse of a blue badge is okay; although it is not. We as a society should not tolerate that.
“When someone misuses a blue badge they do not just take a parking space they deny a parking space to someone with a disability. When that person is denied a parking space they have to return home and might not be able to do what they went into town for.
“People need to understand that by using someone else’s blue badge they are not just taking a parking space they are taking a parking space from a disabled person who is entitled to it.”
Abuse of the scheme reduces the number of on street disabled parking bays and on-street parking spaces available for use by genuine blue badges holders. Local authorities are keen to stamp out the misuse with Parking Enforcement Officers constantly dealing with possible cases of misuse.
Michael Brady, Enforcement Manager City Parking (Glasgow), said:
"All of our officers have been trained in blue badge inspection protocol. This not only ensures that those who use their blue badge properly are treated with respect, but also ensures that if we suspect misuse, action will be taken.
“Checking badges is part of the everyday duties of our attendants and every few weeks we will clampdown on areas where we suspect there is a high level of blue badge misuse taking place. Occasionally it comes down to drivers not realising the rules, however there are many who abuse the scheme and we hear the same excuses daily.
“Blue badges should only be used by those people who have been awarded a badge and have a right to the parking concessions. The power to confiscate will be a crucial tool to tackle abuse and protect the parking rights of legitimate badge holders.”
Glasgow’s most common excuses given by those misusing the blue badge are:
- I have just dropped badge holder off for shopping, doctors, dentist; when that is not the case and enquiries reveal that the badge holder is at home.
- I am waiting on the badge holder coming from, the doctors, dentists
- I am doing the badge holder’s shopping
- I am collecting something for the badge holder / picking up their medication
- I thought I could use the badge as I will be collecting the badge holder later
For more information on blue badges and the rules and regulations around their use, please visit www.bluebadgescotland.org/
For further information please contact John Scott at Stripe on 0131 561 8628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Editors
- The Act does not target badge holders who use their badge lawfully within the rules of the scheme.
- The strengthened powers in the Disabled Persons’ Parking Badges (Scotland) Act 2014 will allow local authorities to cancel badges which have been reported lost or stolen and confiscate badges that are being misused.
- Misuse of a blue badge is already a criminal offence with a fine of up to £1000.
- Using a cancelled badge will also be an offence with a fine of up top £1000.
- The Act will protect the rights of badge holders. Valid badges which are confiscated from third parties will be returned to the badge holder by the local authority as soon as practicable.
- Confiscation will educate the public that it is not acceptable to misuse the blue badge and it will free up parking spaces for badge holders.
Transport Scotland research with individual badge holders on the use and value of the blue badge showed that:
- 76% (624 out of 819) said that without their badge they would go out less often. Additionally, in focus groups some badge holders said that they would not be able to go out at all.
- 83% (679 out of 819) had experienced misuse of blue badges or disabled persons parking spaces, and
- 52% (424 out of 819) regularly experienced misuse. Misuse is seen as a major problem by a majority of badge holders (52%), (425 out of 819).
The research also found that for badge holders the “greatest value of the badge was securing their independence and ability to get out and about allowing a certain quality of life.”
Background - The blue badge scheme
The Disabled Persons’ Parking Badge scheme was introduced throughout the UK in 1971, (originally known as the orange badge scheme). The scheme is now commonly referred to as the blue badge scheme and the disabled persons’ blue badge is mutually recognised throughout the European Union.
The Scottish Government is responsible for the legislation which sets out the framework for the scheme and local authorities are responsible for the day-to-day administration and enforcement of the scheme.
Previous blue badge reforms
The blue badge scheme has been reformed in the last few years to create a more consistent and unified scheme. The reforms aimed to improve the efficiency of the scheme by providing more consistency and fairness, addressing the needs of those disabled people who require the most help to travel.
The blue badge scheme is supported by
- a central national database of badges;
- anti-fraud design of blue badge to prevent misuse and abuse;
- local authorities ability to refuse to issue a badge or withdraw badges following a single relevant conviction in relation to misuse of a badge by a badge holder and
- the use of Independent Mobility Assessments (IMAs) delivered by Occupational Therapists or Physiotherapists who assess those applicants where there is uncertainty as to whether they meet the “unable to walk or virtually unable to walk” eligibility criterion.