The Simon Heng Column. A service user’s view of social care


    During the Christmas holiday madness, when every car in the country
    seemed to be competing for every parking space, there appeared to
    be an increasing number of cars that were not displaying blue
    badges parked in blue badge spaces.


     


    I get really angry about this, particularly when my driver
    can’t find a space. Convenient, safe parking is one of the
    few privileges that people with mobility problems have.


     


    I’ve tried to dream up a few ways of getting revenge, from
    “accidentally” scraping my wheelchair along the side of
    an offender’s car (criminal damage, so I’m told), to
    having special stickers printed to plaster across the offenders
    windscreen with slogans like “You’ve got my parking
    space: would you like my disability as well?” or simply
    “You Inconsiderate B*****d”.


     


    Occasionally, if I spot somebody parking illegitimately in a blue
    badge space, I will confront them. When I ask them why they are
    parked illegally, the responses range from: “That’s not
    my car” (but I just saw you driving it! I’m paralysed,
    not stupid!), to “I’m shopping for my disabled
    relative” (and that’s made you an honorary disabled
    person, has it?) to “I’m only going to be a couple of
    minutes”.


    I’m surprised that nobody’s told me to mind my own
    business – but there again, it is my business, I
    suppose.


     


    There are problems with the scheme, which lead to frequent abuse.
    Labour MP Ross Cranston pointed to a weak legal framework for
    enforcement of the scheme during the House of Commons debate on the
    Transport Bill.


     


    When I ask the large retailers about abuse of blue badges in their
    car parks they say they have no effective sanctions for
    transgressors. It may be an urban myth that some GPs authorise blue
    badges for anyone over the age of 65, but research would find the
    truth. Cranston has said that illegal copies of blue badges are
    changing hands for up to £400.


     


    We need some new ideas to put back some respect into the blue badge
    scheme, and to make abuse of it socially unacceptable.


     

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