New laws to clamp down on drivers who abuse disabled parking have been passed by the Scottish Parliament. The legislation aims to deal with drivers said to be misusing blue badges by giving councils powers to seize and cancel them.
Similar legislation was introduced in England last year, where the Department for Transport cracked down on a what is becoming a lucrative black market in the parking permits – with free on-street parking almost impossible to find and parking fees high, the permits are becoming increasingly valuable and a blue badge could be worth over £1,000 on the black market.
According to the latest official statistics as many as a fifth of the 2.62 million badges in circulation across the UK could be being misused.
Holyrood’s Disabled Persons’ Parking Badges Bill was brought forward by SNP MSP Dennis Robertson, who said abuse of the system was a growing problem and had become “unacceptable”.
There are 245,000 legitimate blue badge holders in Scotland, and Holyrood’s local government committee said misuse of the blue badge scheme was having a major impact on the lives of people who rely on disabled parking spaces.
Research by agency Transport Scotland said 83% of legitimate badge holders had encountered misuse.
One Craigleith blue badge holder, who asked not to be named, welcomed the news. “You see it all the time. Drivers who pretend to be disabled to get free parking are a nightmare because they prevent genuine blue badge holders from using parking bays that are there especially to make things like shopping easier and more accessible.
“Some of those who abuse the system are quite brazen about it and I’ve lost count of the number of inconsiderate drivers I’ve seen who will use a disabled persons parking space in a supermarket car park just to be nearer the shop!
“It’s infuriating – there are a lot of selfish and thoughtless drivers out there and I’m sure genuine blue badge holders will be happy to hear that something is going to be done about it.”
Misuse of a blue badge is already an offence, but enforcement powers currently lie with the police. The new legislation will come into force next year.