Blue badge parking – abuse and reform

As the population ages and parking becomes more expensive, so the temptation has increased to abuse the blue badge parking scheme.

The scheme currently operates under The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Exemptions for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000 and is administered by local authorities, although some of the London boroughs are not covered by the Regulations.

The Regulations provide that there must be an exemption for vehicles displaying a disabled badge from limited waiting orders and no waiting orders (provided that loading and unloading is permitted). In limited waiting areas, there is no maximum waiting period for vehicles displaying a badge but for yellow lines that are subject to no waiting orders, provided loading and unloading is permitted, a vehicle displaying a valid disabled badge and time disc may park for up to 3 hours. The exemptions are very specific and don’t give a general exemption to cause an obstruction.

It is the disabled person, rather than the vehicle, that is granted the exemption, so a vehicle can be driven by an able bodied driver, provided the disabled person is a passenger. This has led to abuse of the system. Local authorities can withdraw the badge if there is persistent misuse, including situations where there has been a conviction of a person other than the holder of the badge and where the displaying of the badge, in contravention of the order, was with the disabled person’s consent. Improper use of a disabled person’s badge is an offence and subject to a maximum fine of £1000.

Partly because of concerns over abuse, the government has reviewed the disabled parking provisions and has recently announced proposals to reform the scheme. These include extending the scheme to people with temporary mobility problems due to problems such as a stoke or joint replacements, who will be issued with a temporary badge, examining the scope for on the spot seizure of badges being unlawfully used and providing extra funding for local authorities so that they can share information in order to reduce fraudulent misuse. There are no proposals to widen the exemptions relating to parking restrictions on yellow lines.

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