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MSPs pass "blue badge" parking controls bill

20 August 2014

New controls on the disabled persons' "blue badge" parking scheme are set to become law after a member's bill received its final approval in the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

MSPs unanimously passed the Disabled Persons' (Parking Badges) (Scotland) Bill, introduced by SNP member Dennis Robertson.

The bill contains a number of measures to strengthen enforcement powers for local authorities when dealing with blue badge misuse. It will allow the confiscation of badges that are no longer valid or which are being misused by third parties; make the use of a cancelled badge or one that should have been returned to the issuing authority under the blue badge regulations an offence, alongside the existing statutory offence of misuse of a blue badge; allow local authorities, should they choose to do so, to use plain-clothes officers who are carrying identification and authorisation to inspect and confiscate badges; and introduce a requirement for local authorities to have a review process for applicants who have been refused a blue badge.

Supporting the bill for the Scottish Government, Transport Minister Keith Brown commented: "On the surface, elements of the bill might appear punitive. However, its aim is to protect the rights of disabled blue badge holders and it responds to calls from badge holders for better enforcement of the scheme. Concerns have been expressed – primarily by Inclusion Scotland – about the confiscation of badges from third parties and the use of plain-clothes officers, but Dennis Robertson has been thorough in his consideration of and consultation on the issue. He has sought to protect badge holders by ensuring that all valid badges that have been confiscated will be returned to the badge holder as soon as is practicable."

Moving the bill, Mr Robertson commented: "It is only right and proper that people with disabilities themselves take some responsibility for their blue badges. During the consultation process, it became very clear that many people who have a blue badge were not aware of the rules and regulations about their use. One of the biggest complaints that we hear is that people think that third-party misuse is OK because the person who is using the badge is, say, going to the shops on behalf of the person with the disability. Of course, that is not the purpose of the badge, but if people with disabilities think that that sort of thing is OK, that suggests that we need to think about educating those people about the use of badges."

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