There are over 58,000 people with a blue badge parking concession in Lancashire and 30,000 residents apply each year to join them.
As proposals emerge to change the reapplication process for existing blue badge-holders in the county, we take a look at the qualifying criteria for being award one in the first place.
The blue badge scheme is governed largely by national guidelines. It is designed for people with severe mobility problems, so that they access essential goods and services. Badges are issued to eligible people irrespective of whether they are a driver or passenger in a vehicle.
Here is how the policy is applied by Lancashire County Council which deals with blue badge applications in all parts of the region except Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen.
Some people are deemed to meet the qualifying criteria automatically or "without further assessment" (where the applicant is more than two years old) by being able to demonstrate that they:
***Receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (HRMCDLA);
***Receive the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and have obtained eight points or more under the "moving around" activity;
***Receive the mobility component of PIP and have obtained 10 points specifically for Descriptor E under the "planning and following journeys" activity, on the grounds that they are unable to undertake any journey because it would cause them overwhelming psychological distress;
***Are registered blind (severely sight impaired);
***Receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement (WPMS);
***Have been both awarded a lump sum benefit at tariffs 1-8 of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and are certified as having a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.
All other applications will be discretionary or "subject to further assessment". An applicant may qualify for a badge where the applicant is more than two years old and may be described as one or more of the following:
***A person who drives a vehicle regularly, has severe disability in both arms and is unable to operate, or has considerable difficulty in operation, all or some types of parking meter; or
***A person who has been certified by an expert assessor as having an enduring and substantial disability which causes them, during the course of a journey, to:
- be unable to walk;
- experience very considerable difficulty whilst walking, which may include very considerable psychological distress;
- be at risk of serious harm when walking;
- pose, when walking, a risk of serious harm to any other person.
In all cases, entitlement depends on the applicant's difficulty when walking as part of a journey - and considerations such as difficulty in carrying parcels or luggage are not taken into account.
Applicants will need to demonstrate that their ability to walk is affected to the extent that they would be unable to access goods and services unless allowed to park close to shops, public buildings and other facilities.
The disability experienced by the applicant must endure for at least three years and therefore excludes temporary limitations of mobility, such as a broken leg.
In addition, children under the age of three may be eligible for a badge if they fall within one or both of the following descriptions:
***A child who, on account of a condition, must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty.
***A child who, on account of a condition, must always be kept near a motor vehicle so that, if necessary, treatment for that condition can be given in the vehicle or the child can be taken quickly in the vehicle to a place where such treatment can be given.
Source: Lancashire County Council
WHAT DOES A BLUE BADGE ENTITLE YOU TO?
Concessions for blue badge-holders include being permitted to park:
***In bays designated for blue badge users or disabled bays;
***On single yellow lines - for up to three hours during the hours of restriction which applies to other road users and provided that the blue badge clock is correctly displayed along with the badge itself.. There must not be any 'no loading' restrictions in operation at the time (indicated by yellow lines painted on the kerbside and an accompanying plate) and parking in loading bays is prohibited. The vehicle must also not be causing an obstruction.
***On double yellow lines - for up to three hours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (unlimited in Scotland) and provided that the blue badge clock is correctly displayed along with the badge itself. There must not be any 'no loading' restrictions in operation at the time (indicated by yellow lines painted on the kerbside and an accompanying plate) and parking in loading bays is prohibited. The vehicle must also not be causing an obstruction.
Private car parks and local-authority-run car parks are under no obligation to offer concessions for blue badge-holders. Many will provide designated bays, but usual charges may apply and badge-holders should check local signage and regulations.
Sources: knowyourparkingrights.org and Citizens Advice