One of the more hotly contested aspects of the UK’s ever controversial parking enforcement sector centres around the Disabled parking badge or blue badge. The issue of who is entitled to one of these much sought after badges with their wide ranging exemptions to the UK’s stringent parking restrictions, together with the specific allowances the badge confers, generates a huge amount of heat, but offers precious little light on the subject.
Below I have explained, in detail, referring to the relevant laws and amendments, the rules and rights (including eligibility criteria) of Disabled badges and parking in the UK. This has been done under the following headings-
- Disabled Parking – Legal authority
- Who actually is entitled to a Disabled badge
- Applying for a Blue badge and appealing its rejection
- Rights of Blue badge holders
- Limits of Blue badge parking
Disabled Parking – Legal authority
Motorists suffering physical impairment or caring for others who do are granted a range of relatively generous parking concessions in the United Kingdom. This is facilitated through the issuing of a blue disabled badge which has to be conspicuously displayed on their vehicles. Its allowances are an acknowledgement of the difficulty this category of citizens would have in using public transport and recognition of their greater dependence upon private mobility.
Disabled parking concessions were first codified into law in December 1971 under “The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970”. This act has been regularly updated and amended ever since. All disabled Blue badges are issued under its auspices and in compliance to its regulations.
Who actually is entitled to a Disabled Badge?
This is an area heavily shaded in grey and open to much conjecture and controversy, with alleged ‘sightings’ of ‘disabled badge holders’ supposedly and suspiciously sporting physiques that wouldn’t be out of place in an Olympic weightlifting contest adding to the mistrust and confusion!
These urban tales feed into popular but largely misinformed perceptions of disability to which the law has no truck. Let’s have a look at the lawful position. The law in this case being the most important till date amendment to the original Disabled motorists 1970 Act mentioned above.
This act is called “The Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (England) Regulations 2000” which came into force on the 1st of April 2000.
It sets out the requirements and criteria for being issued a disabled badge by local authorities who are prescribed as the lawful issuing authorities. The criteria are set out in Part 2 Section 4 of the above Act. They include –
- Any person receiving the higher rate of the mobility component of the disability living allowance in accordance with section 73 of the Social Security and Benefits Act 1982(a)
- Any person using a car issued by the DSS or receives a grant from the NHS given under section 5(2((a)of the NHS Act 1977(b) or Section 46 of the equivalent Scottish legislation.
- Any person registered blind under section 29(4)(g) of the NHS Act 1948(d) or Section 64(1) of the Scottish equivalent Act
- Any person receiving a mobility supplement under article 26A of the Naval, Military and Air forces (Disablement and Death) Service and Pensions Order 1983 (or the Personal injuries scheme (for Civilians)
- A person who has to drive a motor vehicle regularly but has severe impairments in both upper limbs which makes the turning of the steering wheel impossible
- A person who has a ‘permanent and substantial’ disability which causes significant difficulty in walking
Any person who meets any of the criteria above can apply for a blue badge provided the person whose benefit it is for, is 2 years old or above.
Applying for a badge and appealing any initial rejection
The local authority of the area where the applicant resides would be the issuing authority for a disabled badge and the body to whom the application for it should be made.
If the application is turned down an appeal can be lodged with the Secretary of State for Transport.
Probably the most important legislation on Disabled parking which outlines all the concessions disabled drivers are currently entitled to is “The Local Authorities Traffic Orders (Exemptions for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000”.
This legislation defines a disabled motorist as a person possessing a Disabled Blue Badge issued under the Disabled persons act mentioned above.
Rights of blue badge Holders
The Local Authorities Traffic Orders (Exemptions for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000 outlines the concessions a disabled motorist is entitled to in section 6 of the legislation.
These include –
- A 3 hour exemption from the waiting ban on yellow lines, provided these yellow lines are not subject to live loading bans (yellow kerb marks alongside the yellow lines)
Free unlimited parking on the following bays (bays authorised by the Road Traffic Act 1984 Section 45 and 46) –
- Any pay and display, pay and park, meter, shared use, resident or permit bay
- Any maximum stay parking bay
- Any bay with a no-return within a specified period restriction.
- Free unlimited parking on Disabled bays signposted with disabled upright signs and marked with the legend DISABLED in accordance with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions TSRGD 2002 Diagrams 661A (sign) and 1028.3 (Parking bay)
Limits of the badge
Locations where the above concessions do not apply
Due to traffic conditions in parts of central London, the above allowances do not apply in the following areas as stipulated by section 5(2) of “The Local Authorities Traffic Orders (Exemptions for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000” –
- The City of London
- The City of Westminster
- The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
- A part of Camden south of the Euston Road. This includes that part of Camden within the boundary of Euston Road, Upper Woburn Place, Tavistock Square, Woburn Place, Russell Square, Southampton Road, Theobalds Road and Clerkenwell Road. This area (where disabled badges carry no concessions in Camden) will include all of Holborn, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road and all parts of Camden to the west (bordering Westminster) and immediate east of Tottenham Court Road.
Restrictions where the Blue Badge does NOT provide ANY concessions
- Any suspended bay
- Waiting bans with live loading bans (yellow lines with live kerb chevrons or marks adjoining them on the pavement)
- Parking on the footway
- Parking on any stopping ban (i.e Restricted Bus Stops/Stands, Pedestrian zig zags crossing, school keep clear zig zag crossings)
- Red Route Stopping Bans
- Parking in front of a Crossover
- Taxi ranks accompanied by stopping bans