Council adopts novel approach to protect Blue Badge holders

Mon,8 August 2022
News Transport

A campaigning group on driving issues for Disabled people has welcomed an initiative that offers first time offenders an educational alternative to prosecution for abusing the Blue Badge scheme.

East Sussex County Council asks such drivers to attend the equivalent of a speed awareness course and to pay £100 administrative costs, using their powers to issue local resolution orders (LROs). During the session, offenders watch a hard-hitting video that highlights the importance of Blue Badge parking by hearing real-life accounts from Disabled people living in east Sussex. It illustrates how people abusing the scheme affect the availability of suitable parking for Blue Badge holders and what impact this has on their lives. The session also includes a discussion with the offenders, led by the council’s Blue Badge Investigations Officer, Mark Jobling.

Persistent offenders and anyone who refuses to attend the sessions are still prosecuted.

The council sends the Blue Badge holder a letter reminding them of their responsibility to look after the badge and not let others use it.

Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) has previously argued that prosecution is always the best way to enforce the Blue Badge scheme and ensure that its benefits are maximised for the Disabled people who depend on it. However, it is encouraged by the results in East Sussex.

Heidi Turner, DMUK Campaigns and Communications Director, said: "After chatting to Mark Jobling we can see that this LRO scheme is providing effective results in East Sussex. It seems like an excellent way of policing the scheme and protecting its integrity for genuine users. It also removes a lot of the red tape and time that prosecuting offenders involves and it may be a more practical tool for local authorities to enforce the Blue Badge scheme. We would like to see more local authorities adopt this type of Blue Badge enforcement."

It is understood that re-offending rates are low and that several councils are looking at the East Sussex approach.