‘Uncaring’ council blasted over Blue Badge fines

BLUE Badge holders may face charges for out-of-date badges, despite applications being made to renew them.

Parking enforcement officers employed by district and borough councils throughout West Sussex have been alerted over delays in renewing blue badges that give parking concessions to people with mobility problems, the county council heard.

Cllr Pieter Montyn, cabinet member for highways and transport, said residents using an out-of-date badge who had applied for renewal might still face a penalty charge.

Cllr Montyn said: “However, if this happens, residents have the option to appeal against the charge notice. It must be noted that not all renewal applications will successful.”

People with mobility problems may now be penalised with a charge and will have to appeal against this charge at a later date.

There are currently 135 renewal applications with expiry dates of April 20, 2012, or earlier received throughout April and May, which are with the independent mobility assessors team awaiting assessment.

Initially the county council wrote to applicants eight weeks in advance of their badge expiring, however the responses to the invitation to renew were received later than expected, impacting on the six to eight-week expected delivery period.

“The council is now posting invitations to apply for renewals 12 weeks in advance of the expiry date, and will monitor the effectiveness of this and adjust as necessary,” Cllr Montyn added.

These developments have caused outrage among local residents and organisations in the area. Barry Pickthall, spokesman of the Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign in West Sussex, said: “I think it is just terrible, it is being done by a council that simply doesn’t care.

“They have a responsibility to look after the disabled and elderly and they are abdicating their duties. It is almost criminal.

“Because the elderly and disabled are less likely to get out and vote as it is difficult to do so, the councillors just do not care about them, because they don’t have to.”

In addition, there are currently 844 applications awaiting assessment which are a mixture of new applications or applications for badges expiring on May 31, June 30 and July 31.

Glynis Spencer, chairwoman of the Chichester Access Group (CAG), said: “We feel it is completely unreasonable for Blue Badge holders to be financially penalised for the inability of others to renew the badge in a timely manner.

“Adjustments must be made to ensure the disabled are not disadvantaged for others’ inefficiencies.”

Cllr Montyn said the 135 backlog should be dealt with by the end of May.