Headlines: March 14th, 2008

Steps are being taken to combat the abuse of the disabled parking badges including a call to local authorities to do more to prevent theft and other misuse of the scheme. The Transport Minister Rosie Winterton has announced that new Blue Badges will be issued in a tamper-proof laminated casing as part of the drive.

Ms Winterton told the British Parking Association that the cover would mean any attempt to change the details on a badge would leave permanent damage and make it obvious that the badge had been tampered with.

A consultation process has been launched to gather views on how the system can be made more secure, but the Minister called on local council parking services to step-up efforts to reduce theft, forgery and misuse of the scheme. Some councils, she said, had shown genuine leadership in tackling cheats and she added, “We need to be proactive about tackling Blue Badge abuse. That is why I have been extremely impressed with the work of the surveillance teams in Wandsworth, Manchester and Liverpool, for example, who actively pursue and prosecute serial misusers and target ‘hotspots’ such as parking at football matches.”

The new laminated cover follows other anti-fraud measures announced last October such as the inclusion of holograms on badges and gender-specific serial numbers. Rosie Winterton continued, “Through a mix of protective and enforcement measures we can make a big difference not only to how the scheme is used but also how it is respected by the wider community.”

She called on people to join the consultation, which closes on April 17th, and said she was committed to ensuring that the scheme could continue to provide essential parking for disabled people.