News & Features

Disabled Bay Provision Falls a Long Way Short

Posted in General News on Thursday, August 29th, 2019

When it comes to disabled bay provision in council car parks across the UK there is currently only one disabled bay available for every 30 Blue Badge holders according to data obtained by the car insurance comparison site, confused.com. This situation is likely to worsen following the extension of the Blue Badge criteria which means that people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as dementia and autism are eligible. With this in mind, the councils were asked if they had any plans in place to increase disabled bay provision in their respective areas and it transpired that 74% of them haven’t. From a poll of 2,000 drivers around the UK (a nationally representative sample) 75% of the Blue Badge holders in this group said that they have previously been forced to park in a standard parking bay because there wasn’t a disabled bay available. This issue is largely caused by the 2 million motorists who have admitted to misusing a disabled bay at some point according to the research.  Therefore it is not surprising that one in three drivers want councils to do more to ensure that there are an adequate number of disabled bays available for those who are entitled to use them.

The statistics also reveal that 58% of drivers have witnessed Blue Badge abuse at some point and 21% of these people have confronted the perpetrator. Here in lies another problem, now that the Blue Badge criteria has been extended to cover those with ‘hidden disabilities’ confrontation could be coming to those people who are genuine Blue Badge holders. The figures support this point because they indicate that 17% of drivers would confront someone using a disabled bay if they didn’t look like they had a disability. It’s not surprising, given the number of people that have witnessed Blue Badge abuse, that 48% of drivers believe that stricter punishment should be put in place to prevent abuse of the scheme. Heidi Turner, Communications and Campaigns Director at Disabled Motoring UK said: “DMUK took part in the Blue Badge Eligibility Criteria extension consultation in 2018 and raised concerns over the possible effect the expansion would have on already limited disabled parking. DMUK urged the Department for Transport (DfT) to be realistic in its thinking. Just extending the criteria will not necessarily mean that more disabled people will benefit. Actually this change may have disastrous consequences for all Blue Badge holders as there is simply not enough parking to meet demand and concessions could soon disappear because of increased numbers.

The charity is not surprised to see the statistics that have been issued today. We have long campaigned for better parking for disabled motorists. DMUK actually estimates that in reality the number of people abusing disabled parking is much higher than the number of fines issued to motorists because disabled parking is not properly managed in many areas of the country. For example our recent ‘Baywatch Campaign’ which measures the amount of disabled parking abuse at supermarkets found that 1 in 5 disabled parking bays is abused by a vehicle not displaying a Blue Badge. If disabled parking was enforced nationwide this problem could be alleviated and make available more disabled parking bays for genuine Blue Badge holders.

There is no argument that people with hidden disabilities will benefit from having a Blue Badge and DMUK also supports this. However, the increase in demand may undermine the entire scheme and render it not fit for purpose. The end result may mean it will let down the people it was originally intended to help as well as disabled people with hidden disabilities.

DMUK advised the DfT to consider proper enforcement of the scheme before it looked to extend the scheme. The charity predicts that when number of Blue Badge holders increases from August 2019 we will be contacted more and more by disabled people who find their Blue Badge completely meaningless as they will be unable to find adequate parking because it will be so oversubscribed.

We implore all local authorities and private parking operators to take this change seriously, review their disabled parking provision and stress the importance that they all enforce disabled parking properly so that disabled bays are kept free only for genuine Blue Badge holders. If this is not achieved the Blue Badge scheme could soon lose all of its integrity.”

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Rob Heywood's Gravatar
Rob Heywood

Thursday, August, 29th, 2019

I recently asked my local council (Cheshire East) what provision they were making to increase the accessible parking bays throughout the area. They replied that they were making no extra provision at all. I also asked how many people had been prosecuted for the misuse of bays by people who do not have a blue badge and also the number of badges that had been withdrawn due to missuse. I was told that for the year 2018/19 that there had been no prosecutions and no badges withdrawn. There seems to be no point in having a badge if the rules are not enforced.

Glenn Wheeler 's Gravatar
Glenn Wheeler

Thursday, August, 29th, 2019

What is the point of a blue badge when you have to still pay for parking in most towns London don’t even recognise the blue badge. Great Yarmouth say you must park in a disabled bay display your badge but you still have to pay £8.00 parking fee WHAT IS THE POINT