Drivers in Scotland are being urged to think twice about misusing blue badges as the Scottish Government announces a clampdown on abuse of the system.
From March 30, local authorities will have the power to confiscate badges and cancel lost or stolen badges. Thoughtless drivers who are caught misusing a badge will also face penalty fines of up to £1,000.
The blue badge scheme is an essential service for disabled people allowing access to parking bays which are normally closer to work, shops and other community services. Tasks such as going to the shops, attending a doctor’s appointment or even going to work, things that most of us take for granted, become impossible due to lack of access.
Research conducted by Transport Scotland in 2012 showed that 76 per cent of blue badge holders would go out less often if they were without their badge. Many also felt they wouldn’t be able to go out at all.
Ex-serviceman Keith Robertson said that abuse of disabled parking spaces is also rife.
“Without the Blue Badge or disabled bays to park in I would have to find an end bay or park in specific spaces on the street in order to get my wheelchair in and out of the car. I leave the wheelchair in the passenger seat, lift it across my body, assemble it and transfer myself into it.
“On one occasion a man, who was driving a 4x4 and towing a boat, drew up and parked in front of six or seven of the Blue Badge bays. I asked him to move on, as I required one of the spaces.
“I was polite but he was verbally abusive in return and shouted, ‘You disabled folk, you get everything’. I told him that I don’t have everything because I don’t have working legs. Since hate crime legislation came in I can now pick up the phone and report incidents like this but it’s just a shame that it is necessary for me to do that.”
The campaign will also raise awareness of the regulations surrounding the blue badge scheme for other road users, reminding them that use of the badge is for the blue badge holder as a driver or passenger only and any other practice is committing an offence.
The Scottish Government hopes that by providing these additional powers to confiscate badges and cancel lost or stolen badges, people will think twice before misusing them, allowing disabled badge holders to access services in the community and lead independent lives.
Further information can be found at www.bluebadgescotland.org