Blue Badge reforms coming to West Sussex in the New Year - Adur & Worthing Liberal Democrats
Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Blue Badge reforms coming to West Sussex in the New Year

West Sussex County Council will be making significant changes to the Blue Badges’ process, from January 1 2012, in line with Government reforms of the scheme.

The disabled badge car scheme provides national parking concessions for people with severe walking difficulties who are drivers or passengers, and for those who are registered blind.

The reforms will help to ensure people with severe mobility difficulties are treated consistently when they are being assessed for a Blue Badge, and respond to the increasing demand and pressures to extend the scheme to other groups of disabled people and will include the armed forces.

Changes coming into effect in the New Year include:

•          The fee is increasing from £2 to £10. This is to cover the costs of the new style badge which is harder to copy, forge or alter, and the local costs for linking to the national database.
•          A new application form with additional questions to understand the applicant’s specific disability and its impact on their mobility.
•          Health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists will carry out the assessments; there is no longer a requirement for GPs to provide medical evidence in support of an application.
•          Assistance from the County Council Contact Centre to understand and complete the form.
•          Payment and collection for Blue Badges from Libraries.

Pieter Montyn, County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “The Department for Transport introduced the changes and has also recommended a single supplier, Northgate Information Solutions UK Ltd, for the badges to help tackle any forgery issues, and provide a central database to support enforcement.

“These reforms are being put in place to make sure people who need the badges are receiving them and using them correctly.”

Peter Catchpole, County Council Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, said: “The reforms do mean there will be more robust procedures in place. We have written to people with renewals in January 2012 but would suggest that where they have a renewal date of February 2012 or later, they should start the renewal process at least six weeks before the expiry date of their badge.”

For more information visit www.westsussex.gov.uk and search ‘Blue Badge Reforms’, or email blue.badges@westsussex.gov.uk

Notes for editors

1. A cabinet member decision report has been published (December 6) about the redesign process. For more information visit www.westsussex.gov.uk and search ‘Executive Decisions’.

2. Anyone more than two years old automatically qualifies for a Blue Badge if they meet any of the following criteria:

•          are registered blind.
•          are receiving a War Pensioner’s Mobility supplement.
•          are receiving the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.
•          Received a lump sum benefit from the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme (within tariff levels 1-8). You must also have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.

Children under the age of three may also be eligible for a badge if they fall within either or both of the following descriptions:

•          a medical condition which means that they must always be accompanied by bulky medical equipment which cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty; or
•          a medical condition which means that they need to be kept near a vehicle at all times, either for treatment, or for transportation to a location where treatment can be performed.