Blue badge scheme shake-up to tackle misuse

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A SCHEME which administers blue badges for disabled people and their drivers is to be taken over by Northumberland County Council, as part of reforms designed to crack down on abuse and misuse of the permits.

In England, blue badge holders can generally park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours, except where there is a ban on loading or unloading, or at on-street parking meters and pay-and-display machines for free and for as long as they need. The scheme was previously managed by the Primary Care Trust, but in line with national modernisation of the scheme, it will pass to the local authority on January 1.

The reforms are designed to address a number of issues including increasing demand for badges, inconsistent eligibility assessment and high levels of abuse and misuse of badges. The new badge is much improved with a new look and feel, making it more secure, durable and difficult to forge.

New badges will cost £10 and last for three years. Northumberland residents will be able to apply for a badge by telephone, email, post and in person.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt, member for corporate resources, said: “The changes to the scheme will see an improved, more accessible and fairer service for those people who have severe mobility issues. The £10 fee for three years represents great value for money as it allows freedom of ‘on street’ parking across the whole of the country.”

All residents in Northumberland who have a Blue Badge that is due to expire after January 1, 2012, will need to apply under the new modernised scheme. Customers only need to apply for the new style badge when their old one expires, or if it’s been lost or stolen.

If customers have any queries about the new process, they can email the Blue Badge Team at Northumberland County Council at bluebadges@northumberland.gov.uk or telephone 0845 600 6400.