Disabled drivers face battle for dedicated parking space in the north west as Blue Badge scheme is extended

It could be more difficult for disabled drivers to find a dedicated parking space as the Blue Badge scheme is being extended
It could be more difficult for disabled drivers to find a dedicated parking space as the Blue Badge scheme is being extended

A new study has revealed dedicated parking spaces for Blue Badge holders are at breaking point in the north west.

The study comes as the Blue Badge scheme is to be extended from tomorrow (Friday, August 30) as people with hidden disabilities will be eligible for a permit.

New data shows there are 50 Blue Badge holders in the north west battling for one dedicated council-owned parking space, on average.

And with more people eligible for Blue Badges under the new criteria, this shortage is only likely to worsen. Under the scheme, drivers with hidden disabilities in England will be eligible for a Blue Badge. Councils in Wales and Scotland have been working to this criteria for a number of years.

Dedicated Blue Badge parking spaces are available for badge holders, as they’re often located closer to entrances or offer more room to get in and out of the car. However, new data obtained by Confused.com found that many drivers are abusing this luxury. Last year, almost 16,000 parking charge notices (PCN) were issued to drivers in the north west for wrongly parking in a Blue Badge parking space – with drivers in Greater Manchester receiving more than 9,000 of those issued.

A battle for Blue badge parking spaces is widespread across the UK, as on average there are 30 blue badge holders to once council-owned parking space. This shortage is made even worse by non-blue badge drivers abusing the use of these spaces. In fact, 156,000 fines were issues to drivers for misusing spaces in just one year.

Overall, the expansion of the scheme has been well received by drivers, with almost half (48 per cent) seeing it as a positive move. But it has also raised a lot of confusion among drivers, with one in five (20 per cent) questioning what will happen to the number of Blue Badge parking spaces following the expansion of the scheme.

Confused.com asked councils if they intend to expand Blue Badge parking provisions, with 74 per cent claiming they don’t have any current plans in place. However, drivers think councils should be doing more, with almost one in three (30 per cent) calling for councils to extend the number of bays for Blue Badge holders following the increase in applications. Currently, one in four (25 per cent) drivers who are or travel with a Blue Badge holder are concerned they won’t be able to access spaces due to the expansion of the scheme.

Misusing Blue badge spaces is an issue that is widespread across the UK, as almost two million UK drivers admit they’ve misused a Blue Badge parking space. And their reasoning was mostly for their own convenience than for a genuine need for the space:

Top reasons drivers have wrongly used a Blue Badge parking space:

• I was only going to be quick (36 per cent)

• There were plenty of Blue Badge spaces available (28 per cent)

• I couldn’t find another space (24 per cent)

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Clearly more parking for Blue Badge holders is needed – 50 Blue Badge holders to one dedicated parking space in the North West is quite a challenge. It’s no wonder some of these drivers have had to park elsewhere. And the number of people competing for spaces is only going to grow as more people can apply for a Blue Badge now.

“Drivers who misuse these spaces are making the problem even worse. They should be more respectful and leave them free for those who need them.

“If you think you might be eligible for a Blue Badge but are confused about what the criteria is, we’ve outlined the new rules in our guide. We always recommend getting in touch with your council for full details.”