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Blue Badges

Volume 551: debated on Thursday 18 October 2012

The Department has recently updated its non-statutory guidance for local authorities to reflect reforms to the blue badge system. One of the main issues with the scheme concerned local authority administration, which was inconsistent and inefficient. The updated guidance aims to improve consistency and to remind local authorities of the eligibility criteria set out in the regulations. Local authorities remain responsible for taking decisions about an applicant’s eligibility for a blue badge.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Many people such as me who have difficulty walking—seven months after an accident—and even more difficulty getting in and out of a car in an ordinary car parking space, look longingly at empty disabled car parking spaces and yet cannot get a temporary blue badge. What can and will the Government and local councils do to address this situation for the future?

I am very sympathetic to my hon. Friend and understand the case she makes. I have looked at the temporary issuing of badges for the sort of situation that she describes. One of the downsides would be tremendous pressure on the limited number of parking spaces available. In June this year I issued an advice note to local authorities indicating how they might deal with locally determined concessions to deal with such situations, and I suggest that she pursue the matter with Poole unitary authority.

I have two elderly constituents, both long-term blue badge holders, whose only changing condition is that they are getting older and less mobile. They were told that they had to reapply to the county council for a new blue badge. When they did so, they were assessed very briefly over the phone and told that they were no longer eligible. Does the Minister really think that mobility can be assessed by a brief phone call?

To be honest, that does sound a little bit cursory, but the assessment of eligibility criteria is a matter for local authorities, not for the Government. It is important to stress that we have not changed the eligibility criteria at all except to widen them slightly. The hon. Lady needs to pursue the point with her local council.