Councils could be given new powers to tow away cars displaying blue badges that are being misused, and to confiscate badges that have been reported lost or stolen.
The government proposals aim to make the system of blue parking badges for disabled people easier for councils to administer and enforce.
A strategy for reform of the system was published nearly 18 months ago, and the latest proposals aim to achieve some of those reforms.
The Department for Transport said abuse and misuse of badges – such as fraudulent applications and altering or forging badges – could cost nearly £15 million a year, but only one in five councils actively enforces the scheme.
Councils could be given new powers to cancel badges that have been reported as lost or stolen, withdrawn for repeated misuse, or have expired, with parking officers given new powers to confiscate such badges.
A consultation on the latest proposals also asks whether councils should be allowed to tow away cars that display fake or forged badges or those that are being misused.
The government is also “exploring” the costs and benefits of a system that would allow councils to share information about blue badge-holders, making enforcement easier. Councils could be forced to take part in this data-sharing system.
Helen Smith, director of policy and campaigns for the disability charity Mobilise, backed the idea of giving councils powers to tow vehicles, but added: “There is so much abuse that it could make people think twice, but we don’t want to see disabled people stranded in the middle of nowhere because their car has been towed away.”
She also supported giving councils the power to confiscate badges, but said she did not understand the apparent reluctance to introduce a national database of badge-holders.
She added: “I do feel it is taking quite a long time for changes to be made but obviously we will be responding to the consultation and hoping for more improvements to the blue badge scheme very soon.”
Transport minister Sadiq Khan said the 2008 strategy “highlighted the extent to which some people are abusing the scheme”, while the consultation “gives greater detail on how we can tackle these problems and aims to ensure that the right people get a badge in the first place”.
The government’s strategy covers England. Wales published its own proposals in December, while Scotland is also considering blue badge reform.
The consultation on the proposals closes on 2 July. For more information, visit: www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/2010-20/
23 March 2010