New blue badges will be more difficult to forge

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BLUE badges for disabled drivers will in future cost more and be harder to forge.

These are two features of significant blue badge reforms which West Sussex County Council is introducing from January 1 next year.

The changes are in line with government reforms of the scheme, which provides national parking concessions for people with severe walking difficulties who are drivers or passengers, and for those who are registered blind.

They will help to ensure people with severe mobility difficulties are treated consistently when being assessed for a blue badge, and respond to increasing demands and pressures to extend the scheme to other groups of disabled people, including the armed forces.

Changes coming into effect in the New Year include:

A fee increase from £2 to £10. This is to cover the costs of the new-style badge which is harder to copy, forge or alter, and the local costs for linking to the national database.

A new application form with additional questions to understand the applicant’s specific disability and its impact on their mobility.

Health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists will carry out the assessments; there is no longer a requirement for GPs to provide medical evidence in support of an application.

Assistance from the county council contact centre to understand and complete the form.

Payment and collection for blue badges from libraries.

Pieter Montyn, county council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The Department for Transport introduced the changes and has also recommended a single supplier, Northgate Information Solutions UK Ltd, for the badges to help tackle any forgery issues, and provide a central database to support enforcement.

“These reforms are being put in place to make sure people who need the badges are receiving them and using them correctly.”

Peter Catchpole, cabinet member for adults’ services, said: “We have written to people with renewals in January, 2012, but would suggest that where they have a renewal date of February, 2012, or later, they should start the renewal process at least six weeks before the expiry date of their badge.”

For more information email blue.badges@westsussex.gov.uk.