The BPA was delighted to attend the Disabled Motoring UK Awards 2018 at The Victory Services Club in London, which celebrated the achievements of disabled people and the organisations that support them.

Many BPA members attended and were recognised for the role they play in supporting mobility for all. Two awards in particular focused on the parking profession. These were the Parking Enforcement award, which was open to local authority and private operators enforcing the Blue Badge Scheme, and the Disabled Parking Accreditation Car Park of the Year award.

The London Boroughs of Bexley and Bromley won the local authority category of the Parking Enforcement award for their joint initiative on Blue Badge enforcement and Blue Badge Fraud Investigation, a company specialising in fraud and theft from the public sector won the private sector category.

The BPA was proud to sponsor the new Disabled Parking Accreditation Car Park of the Year award, which was won by Canada Square in Canary Wharf, London. The award was only open to entrants who hold the Disabled Parking Accreditation (DPA), and had to demonstrate that it went above and beyond the standards set out by the DPA.

Chris Stones of Canary Wharf Management collected the award. He said: “I am honoured to have collected the DPA Car Park of the Year Award on behalf of Canary Wharf.

“We are committed to ensuring we excel in the standards of service provided in all of our car parks. Over the next year, we will continue working towards having all our car parks recognised.”

The number of Disabled Parking Accreditations now stands at 800 across the UK, which is a significant achievement. It demonstrates organisational appetite for ensuring disabled people have access to spaces and places and for fulfilling obligations under the Equalities Act. We know these issues are important and in particular enforcement of spaces, as abuse of disabled parking has been cited as one of the most off-putting aspects of using a car park.

In fact the word ‘enforcement’ features prominently in relation to disabled parking, whether that is enforcing disabled bays on behalf of blue badge holders to the enforcer, such as a local authority combatting blue badge abuse and misuse.

Despite the Blue Badge Scheme handbook detailing the conditions for use, many relatives still believe that they are entitled to use them even if running errands for a genuine badge holder. Abuse of blue badges and the potential increase in badge holders could stretch enforcement activity and there is concern in the parking sector that disabled parking spaces will come under significant pressure.

The BPA is working with the Department for Transport, medical professionals, local authorities and disability groups to explore best practice and identify barriers to enforcement. An amended Blue Badge Scheme will come into force in 2019 that will see parity between mental and physical health conditions, but not until new guidance has been developed and legislation made. In the meantime we continue to promote the Disabled Parking Accreditation, which we believe will become increasingly important to disabled motorists in future and we look forward to seeing continued growth.