28 OCTOBER 2019
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BTN editor-in-chief Malcolm Ginsberg was "troubled" last week by a motorist displaying a Blue Badge which allows parking for the disabled. The behaviour of this person was less than expected in a civilised society.
The individual had parked on a double yellow line at a junction in what Ginsberg thought was a very dangerous position. The editor-in-chief suggested politely the vehicle should be moved but was met by a torrent of abuse. The person displaying the Blue Badge had no visible physical problems and it was not obvious whether he was the holder of the licence.
The point of this COMMENT is that Blue Badges have no identification on them. Put the sign up and that is seemingly OK. BTN would like a photographic identity on the badge. This is the case for a Freedom Pass and likewise a driving licence. Why not a Blue Badge too? It can’t be a case of civil liberties or cost. The BBC demands it when you visit for a recording and there are many other examples when identification is required without a strain on civil liberties. The Chartered Institute of Journalists issues members with photo id, as do similar organisations.
The system is being abused. BTN supports the concept and we report in this issue on the inaugural Blue Badge Access Awards. We have actively supported the work of both Gatwick and Heathrow in making it easier for people with disabilities to travel. But the scheme needs looking at and one way to monitor it is with a proper identification process for those that really need it.
We appeal to secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps. He clearly has a lot on his mind, but something as straightforward as requiring each Blue Badge to have an identifying photograph should not be beyond the resources of his department.
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Allan Schoenherr, Prague, CZ
It is legal for someone to use the blue badge on behalf of a disabld person, even if they are disabled themselves, as others have pointed out. I sympathise with people like Keith who end up getting a barrage of abuse from members of the public who are unaware or unconcerned by this. I don\'t see photos as helping, in fact it would be more of a hinderance and likely cause more of this type of abuse. In fact in the article it states "The person displaying the Blue Badge had no visible physical problems and it was not obvious whether he was the holder of the licence." which concerns me on two levels - one the assumption that all disabilities are visible and secondly that the ownership of the badge was deemed of importance. Whilst I agree that it sounds like the driver in question was at fault for parking unsafely (blue badge or otherwise) I am not sure that this is really worthy of an article in BTN? Perhaps it would be if the roles were reversed.
Mike Meade, Chesham
My partner has MS. Her disability is not always visible on some days, but is very evident on others. Her Blue Badge has her photo on it, but not on the side that is supposed to be displayed – presumably so that the photo is not altered by direct exposure to the sun. In my opinion, there should be the original photo on one side and a representation of it on the disply side, similar to the 2 pics in British passports where only one photo is the original and the other is a copy of it.
Ted Wilkinson, Broxbourne, Herts
When it comes to dealing with disabled people Spain’s Alicante Airport is not setting a good example. Last week a Jet2 aircraft was seriously delayed. My wife and I are wheelchair bound. The initial wait landside was 90 minutes and a request for help with toilet facilities turned down. “Staff at lunch” was the retort. Chaos, and eventually we were taken to a “Special Security Area" with around 100 others including wheelchairs, prams and small children. Many people became distressed, including mothers with babies with no access to more clothes or changing facilities, diabetics without lunch, and people needing toilet after such a long wait. We boarded three and half hours after arriving at the airport. The plane missed its slot and took off after a 45 minutes wait. Jet2 were fine and sympathetic. Edward Wilkinson - retired Member of the British Guild of Motoring Writers and former BTN motoring correspondent.
Malcolm Forrest, Paris France
I have had a French blue badge for many years. the format is the same in all EU countries and valid through out the EU. The problems you and other commentators make here exist throughout the world, not only in the UK. It seems so obvious that the photo should be on the front. The only objection is that there can be false accusations of fraud when a partner drops off the disabled person and then parks the car. My wife worries about this. However the Fraud level observed daily by every badge holder is so high that their frustration often reaches levels resulting in abuse of other users who appear unhandicapped. Incidentally the percentage of legitimate badge holders who show no evident signs of handicap is very small. Personally, it is a rare day, either in London or Paris, that I do not see at least one 30 to 50 year old put up a blue badge and walk briskly away.
Keith Freeman, Berkshire
Like Edward Harrison I had (and used) my wife's blue badge. As I got out of the car (in a disable parking bay) I was accosted by an angry man who pointed out I was not physically handicapped. I pointed out I was collecting my wide from the nearby surgery. When I came back (with my wife) he was still there. "She can f*** walk, too" he yelled. I explained blue badges weren't just for people who couldn't walk 50 meters. He stormed away muttering "I'll f*** report you". So photos on blue badges maybe a good idea (for display purposes) but there are drawbacks...
John Smith, England
An authorised officer is entitled to check the ID on the back. Also (not defending abusive behaviour) not all disabilities are obvious. My son has a rare metabolic illness and cannot walk any significant distance but if you saw him you would not know. But also it is illegal to park in a dangerous position even with a blue badge. Problem is there is no enforcement - in the same way as in supermarkets where driving a large BMW seems to entitle you to use a disabled bay.
Edward Harrison, Yeovil
I approve of your concern. However, there is a problem with the photograph idea. I had a friend (sadly deceased) who had a blue badge. I would sometimes drive her to hospital appointments in the centre of Bath where parking is at a premium. Usually we would find a space as we approached the hospital dn we could park and she could set the card time and walk to the hospital. But there were occasions when I dropped her and then went to find parking and that led to me having to set the badge time. If the badge had had a picture it would have been obvious that although I wasn't breaking the rules I wasn't the holder. No, I don't have an answer.
Les Miller, Bedford
A blue badge aleady has a photo on it but that does not have to be displayed. In fact, you are specifically instructed that the photo should not be displayed.
David Merritt, Oxted
Yes they do get abused, but the photo is on the back of the badge, so there is ID
Helen Wilkinson, Hertfordshire
Blue badges do have photo identity- on the back! CRAZY