Your local council issues blue badges to make parking easier for people with disabilities. They are designed to enable people who finding getting around difficult to access shops and local amenities. They will let you park on the street on things like yellow lines that are normally restricted.
How do I apply for a blue badge?
It can take up to 12 weeks to apply for a blue badge. You need proof of identity, proof of address and proof of any benefits you might get for being disabled. You need to show proof of Personal Independence Payment and your Disability Living Allowance including the rate.
If you’re not on benefits, you should provide proof of medication and treatments. The council will then assess all these and award the blue badge if it believes you’re eligible.
Where can I use the blue badge?
Blue badges are for on-street parking only. Off-street, which means car parks in shopping centres, hospitals and so on, has different arrangements for disabled drivers.
You can only display the badge when the person to whom it was awarded is in the car. Or you are picking up or dropping off that person from a restricted area. You can’t use the blue badge to make life easier for a friend or relative while the badge holder waits in the car.
When can’t you use the blue badge?
It can only be used when the person it applies to is in the car. In our reader’s case, that’s his mother. If you’re doing shopping for them or running other errands and they’re not in the car, then you can’t use it.
You can’t give the blue badge to friends and other relatives either. There has been some quite serious abuse of the scheme in the past. It is a criminal offence to misuse a blue badge and can result in a fine of up to £1,000.
Using the badge
You have to display the badge properly when parking ‘illegally’ or you’ll get a ticket. The council will send you a time clock that should be shown with the badge in certain conditions. You should use this for parking in places with time limits such as on yellow lines. You show the time you arrived on the clock.
The badge has an expiry date and you must return it if you no longer need it. Equally, you should apply to renew it before it runs out.
Who can check it?
Police officers, traffic wardens, parking attendants and civil enforcement officers all have the right to scrutinise the blue badge. Not showing them is against the law and could result in a fine of up to £1,000.
Civil enforcement officers are employed by councils to enforce parking, traffic and other laws. They have the right to retain the badge if they believe you’re misusing it.