Parking rights for disabled people are a postcode lottery, says Transport Committee.
Disabled people may be missing out on special parking concessions because of where they live. This is the main finding of a Transport Select Committee report out today into the Blue Badge Scheme, which offers parking concessions for disabled people. It comes as the Government carries out a strategic review of the scheme.
The Committee found wide differences in the way the eligibility criteria are assessed by different local authorities. It wants to see more done to promote consistent good practice across the country.
Transport Committee Chair Louise Ellman said: "The parking needs of people with disabilities must not be decided by what is effectively a postcode lottery.
"There must be greater consistency in the way in which the eligibility criteria for blue badges are applied across the country, and those who use stolen badges must face the consequences. This is a fundamental matter of fairness."
The Committee's conclusions include:
The Committee wants to see the minimum issue period for a badge reduced from three years to one, to include those with short-term or temporary disabilities. It would also like to see "smart card" technology developed so there could be even more flexibility over the issuing of badges.
In cases where a blue badge holder's condition is unlikely to improve they should not usually have to undergo regular three-yearly assessments, but have their badge renewed automatically.
The Government should consider including central London, which currently has its own regime, in the national system.
Eligibility for a blue badge should be based on mobility in a wider sense than simply on an applicant's ability to walk. But the Government should also look to more appropriate ways of helping people with other disabilities, such as bowel disease.
For those who knowingly abuse the scheme the Committee want to see tougher penalties. In particular, those who use stolen badges should have their vehicles impounded. A national database should also be established to help combat fraud.
The Security Industry Authority should take steps to prevent vehicles displaying a valid badge from being clamped when they are parked on private land.
The Committee also found that Asda was the only example given of a major national company which consistently fined people who abused its disabled bays.
1. Committee Membership is as follows: Mrs Louise Ellman (Lab, Liverpool Riverside) (Chair), Mr David Clelland (Lab, Tyne Bridge), Clive Efford (Lab, Eltham), Mr Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering), Mr John Leech (Lib Dem, Manchester Withington), Mr Eric Martlew (Lab, Carlisle), Mr Lee Scott (Con, Ilford North), David Simpson (DUP, Upper Bann), Mr Graham Stringer (Lab, Manchester Blackley), Mr David Wilshire (Con, Spelthorne).
2. Further information about the work of the Committee can be found at www.parliament.uk/transcom
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SCA 42/2007-08 10 June 2008