Badge abuse forces changes

PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:13 10 June 2010

NEARLY three quarters of disabled drivers in East Devon continue to struggle to find parking spaces - because selfish able-bodied motorists use them instead.

NEARLY three quarters of disabled drivers in East Devon continue to struggle to find parking spaces - because selfish able-bodied motorists use them instead.

The latest research from the Department for Transport (DFT) shows that 73 per cent of disabled drivers frequently find that non-disabled badge holders us the allocated spaces in places like supermarkets.

And worryingly, 44 per cent of non-Blue Badge holders in the poll thought that other parking offences like parking on the kerb and double parking were more unacceptable than taking a Blue Badge space from a disabled driver.

At the same time 46 per cent of non-Blue Badge holders say that parking in a disabled space without a valid Blue Badge is totally unacceptable.

When asked, nearly one in 10 holders admitted to having given their badge to a friend or relative, with over a third believing it 'doesn't harm anyone'.

The alarming statistics follow the announcement in September that Devon County Council has been given new powers to penalise non-badge holders in disabled spaces and confiscate forged, stolen or misused badges in a £55 million shake-up of the Blue Badge scheme.

Badge holders are being urged to help support the scheme by receiving information on using their badge responsibly.

This includes informing their local authority if their circumstances change and not lending their badge to others.

Unveiled by Transport Minister Paul Clark, scheme includes a nationwide council data base to reduce Blue Badge associated vehicle crime, and safeguard parking, close to vital services, for the disabled.

Chief Officer of Age Concern Exmouth, Steve Dace, said: "Disabled parking spaces should be available for people who need them."

More than 12,000 Blue Badges are issued by Devon County Council a year - and in a recent poll 73 per cent of users said that confiscation was the best way to tackle the growing problem.

Paul Clark MP said: "Two thirds of councils tell us abuse of the scheme is a major issue - and that around one in every 200 badges in circulation are reported as stolen each year.

"And with forged or stolen badges reportedly being sold on the black market for up to £1,500 a time, it is time to get tough.

"Alongside this we need to make sure that everyone who needs a badge receives one.


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