Protection for Suffolk’s Blue Badge holders
The first of a number of ‘enforcement days’ has taken place in Suffolk, aimed at protecting genuine Blue Badge holders.
A Blue Badge is for the benefit of eligible people with severe mobility difficulties or severe non-visible disabilities, to enable them to park closer to their destination.
On 1 September 2021, officers from Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council patrolled Bury St Edmunds, to talk to badge holders and listen to their experiences. They were also on the lookout for anyone exploiting the system. Further enforcement days are planned in the coming months across Suffolk.
Suffolk County Council is working with all borough and district councils to take a tougher stance on those that misuse Blue Badges. Anyone that uses stolen, lost or fake badges can face prosecution, along with those who use a badge without the holder being part of the journey.
Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, Cabinet Member for Adult Care at Suffolk County Council, said:
“We have around 42,300 Blue Badge holders in Suffolk who we want to protect and who should not be denied appropriate parking spaces or access because someone else is illegally using a Blue Badge. Just from our first day in Bury St Edmunds, badge holders we spoke to were very happy to have their badge checked and welcomed the action that we were taking.
“As the Blue Badge issuing authority, the county council wants to ensure a consistent approach across Suffolk. We have been working closely with all our borough and district councils, since civil parking enforcement became the county council’s responsibility in April 2020.”
On this first enforcement day, 172 badges were inspected with the vast majority being used legitimately. Two expired badges being displayed were confiscated, one expired badge was handed in and one badge was confiscated due to being used by a non-badge holder.
Mark Walsh, Director of Operations at West Suffolk Council, said:
“We welcome this joined-up approach across Suffolk, and being part of this move to work together to protect our blue badge holders in West Suffolk as well as informing the public about the issues. It is only a small minority of drivers that abuse parking restrictions and we would like to thank all motorists who follow guidance. Bad parking or abusing the blue badge system may mean people who have a right and need to park, can’t. Also bad parking obstructs emergency vehicles, hurts the local economy and can cause pollution and congestion.”
Brenda Joyce, Disability Development Officer for Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People (SCODP), said:
“Sadly, we do hear from disabled people about abuses of the Blue Badge system in Suffolk. It can be extremely distressing for genuine badge holders to be denied parking close to shops or services to collect food or prescriptions, to attend medical appointments or to just carry out normal everyday activities just like everyone else.
“SCODP is delighted to hear that our local authorities are joining together across Suffolk and are prepared to prosecute anyone who exploits the Blue Badge system. We welcome these enforcement days and the chance for genuine badge holders to speak with officers about their experiences.”
Blue Badge offences come under the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 which makes it an offence for a badge to be used for parking without the badge holder present and covers fake badges. Certain offences can also constitute fraud and cases can be prosecuted in the Magistrates, resulting in a maximum £1000 fine.