Blue badge improvements for Wales


The Welsh government has outlined plans to clamp down on the abuse of accessible parking bays, as part of improvements to the disabled people’s blue badge parking scheme.

The five-year action plan also includes measures to extend eligibility for a badge and work with councils to improve the way the scheme is run and make it easier to prevent fraud and abuse.

The plan follows a consultation which ended in September 2008, while a similar strategy to improve the blue badge scheme in England was announced in October 2008.

Ieuan Wyn Jones, the Welsh economy and transport minister, said: “We need to ensure that the people who are most in need of a blue badge are able to access the service quickly and efficiently, and we make best use of modern technology to reduce the abuse of the blue badge scheme.”

One priority is to extend the scheme to some disabled children under three, including those using bulky medical equipment, and adults who find it difficult to use parking ticket machines due to severe impairments in both arms.

The scheme will also be extended to some people with autism and dementia, and those with impairments that have a severe but temporary impact on mobility.

And the Welsh government said it wants to work with organisations such as the British Retail Consortium to clamp down on abuse of accessible bays in supermarkets and other private carparks.

It hopes to cut fraud and abuse with security measures to make badges harder to copy, forge or borrow, and by giving traffic wardens the power to seize misused badges. Nearly four in five respondents in the consultation backed such powers.

The action plan also promises a more “fair and robust” system of assessment of eligibility for the badge and a “fair and transparent” appeal system.

And the Welsh government will work with the UK Department for Transport to introduce a database to allow councils to share information on badge-users – another popular idea in the consultation.

Helen Smith, director of policy and campaigns for the charity Mobilise, said she was pleased the Welsh government had recognised the need for reform, to ensure that “the right people are getting badges and the right people are using them”, which she said was “as much a problem in Wales as in England”.

She said anecdotal evidence suggested the strategy in England had already tightened eligibility, with more people having applications rejected.

12 January 2010