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McArthur backs blue badge scheme changes

May 21, 2014 9:45 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney Liam McArthur has given hisLiam McArthurLiam McArthur support to efforts to tighten up rules governing use of so-called "blue badges".

During a debate this afternoon on the Disabled Persons' Parking Badge bill, Mr McArthur highlighted problems that have been raised about the way in which the current blue badge system works.

Commenting after the debate, Mr McArthur said:

"As someone with a family member who is a blue badger holder, I recognise the importance of this scheme. It allows individuals with mobility difficulties to enjoy a degree of independence they would otherwise not have.

"Yet it is obvious that the scheme is open to abuse, either inadvertently or deliberately. As well as the frustration and inconvenience this can cause genuine blue badge holders, the misuse of blue badges for on-street parking can also deprive local councils of thousands of pounds.

"But in cracking down on this fraud or raising public awareness about appropriate use of blue badges, we need to take care not to cause further problems for those with a genuine need. I know of cases in Orkney where elderly and infirm constituents have questioned whether or not to re-apply for a badge in light of the lengthy forms and assessment they were asked to complete.

"This is a concern as it would penalise the very people this system was set up to help. Thankfully, in the cases that have been raised with me, Orkney Islands Council have responded constructively and used what discretion they have. It was also encouraging to hear the Transport Minister confirm this afternoon that many elderly and disabled badge holders could have their passes automatically renewed.

"This bill is relatively small but will make a big difference to improving a scheme that is so important to many individuals across Scotland. I am delighted to see it receive unanimous support in parliament today."