In response to the Standard’s story last week on Heckington Area Voluntary Car Service and their fight to retain their blue disabled parking badge for use when dropping off at busy hospitals, Lincolnshire County Council has issued further advice on a way forward.
The county acts as the vetting authority when issuing blue badges locally by interpreting department for transport rules on who should be eligible for a badge. But Richard Higgs of the car service had become frustrated in what he saw as bureacratic red tape preventing volunteers from providing a service to patients in need of transport to and from hospitals when at their most vulnerable and incapacitated but maybe not necessarily fitting the criteria for a blue badge by not being seen as permanently disabled
Ellen Bawden strategic business manager at the council, said: “We assess blue badge applications against criteria set by the department for transport. Although the Heckington Voluntary Car Service has been issued a badge in the past, the government has tightened the rules in recent years in an attempt to tackle the high number of fraudulent blue badge applications.
“I have the greatest admiration for the service and the work that they do, but I’m afraid they simply don’t meet the criteria that we have to judge applications by.
“There are 22 voluntary car schemes that operate in Lincolnshire and although they aren’t eligible for a blue badge, we do support them in other ways by providing funding, and by supplying them with things like hospital parking badges.”
She suggested the car service could arrange for almost exactly the same access simply by applying for a hospital parking badge.