Extending Blue Badge eligibility could turn-out to be a mixed blessing

The British Parking Association welcomes the Government’s announcement that more people with genuine mobility difficulties are to be included in the Blue Badge Scheme.  However, it is important to consider the implications this might have for traffic management and road safety, existing Blue Badge holders and those involved in the practical side of managing the scheme. 

The Blue Badge Scheme is designed to enable people to access places more easily when considering their mobility challenges. Yellow lines are normally used to ensure traffic flows safely, routes are not obstructed and allow servicing of adjacent premises. There is a potential conflict of interests when a scheme allows vulnerable people to park where others are required not to park for their own safety and the safety of other road users.

Kelvin Reynolds, Director Corporate and Public Affairs said: “Everyone needs to work to ensure that this welcome extension of the eligibility criteria operates as intended and doesn’t lead to yet more misuse, abuse and misunderstanding of Blue Badges and in so doing undermine the credibility the scheme; that would a real pity for the sake of those with genuine mobility difficulties.”

“If there are locations where parking by Blue Badge holders is acceptable throughout the day then consideration should be given to having those parking places designed properly and designated for their use, dispensing with yellow lines altogether. This would be much fairer and safer for everyone.”

Parking off-street is even safer when this is practical. The British Parking Association manages the Disabled Parking Accreditation for Disabled Motoring UK to promote high quality disabled parking spaces across the UK so that disabled motorists can more easily find spaces available to park.

A spokesperson for Disabled Motoring UK said: “DMUK works to support the mobility of disabled people and there is no dispute that people with certain mental health conditions and cognitive disabilities could benefit from having a Blue badge. However, the charity is worried that increasing the numbers of Blue Badge holders will put more pressure on limited disabled parking which is poorly enforced and in some areas of the country not enforced at all.

“In light of this recent extension DMUK would like to see the government put more pressure on local authorities and private operators to enforce the scheme to make sure it benefits genuine Blue Badge holders. The charity is very concerned that without adequate enforcement the scheme will become meaningless and be of no benefit to any disabled person.”