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Blue Badge Bay Battle

Council bureaucracy and van drivers who can’t read!

When I first moved to this flat seven years ago I applied for a Blue Badge parking space outside my flat, as on the road where I live there are often more cars than parking spaces. It should have been a simple and straightforward process, I had been granted my Blue Badge by the same council I was applying to for a parking bay. Both processes required that I was unable to walk more than 50 yards.

I was speedily issued with my Blue Badge, but when it came to the parking space the OT who assessed me somehow decided that because I was using a mobility scooter and not a wheelchair I could not be granted a bay. I appealed and the same decision was repeated. So I contacted a firm of solicitors with expertise in such matters and they agreed to represent me under the Legal Aid scheme so I could challenge the council decision by Judicial Review. Several letters were not responded to and it was only when my solicitors were within days of fixing the court hearing that the council caved in and agreed to grant me the bay.

Great, I thought, no more parking problems! But I was mistaken, it seems that a high number of delivery drivers (they are the worst culprits) are unable to read. I often discover that when I’m not parked in the space, they decide it’s a convenient spot to leave their vehicles whilst delivering to my neighbours. So I’m often unable park anywhere near my flat and find myself blocking the road until the parking bay is free. I also find that other Blue Badge holders often use the bay, which they do not need to. Anyone with a Blue Badge may park in any residents bay in this borough for an unlimited period.

Occasionally too, the empty bay gets used by mums driving ‘Chelsea Tractors’ drooping their children off for play dates or parties. They are usually rather more polite and apologetic than white van man!

If I need to park in another residential street I invariably avoid any Blue Badge bay outside someone’s house out of consideration for the person who applied for the bay and therefore needs to use it themselves. I wish others would be as thoughtful.

Sometimes the car using the bay outside my flat has no Blue Badge, which means in theory that I could call the council and ask that the car be ticketed and removed. But, due to cuts neither parking wardens or the pick-up truck work outside ‘office hours’. Thus it can be hours, and at the weekend, days before the car is driven away or is forcibly removed.

Having noticed several other bays in my borough that are now for designated Blue Badge holders only I called the council to enquire how I can get the bay outside designated solely for my use. I was not impressed to discover I have to undergo yet another assessment!

I asked why and was told it was ‘procedure’! I explained that I receive DLA, soon to be PIP, only to be told that didn’t matter I still needed to be assessed. I really cannot understand why. If I’m entitled to a Motability car by reason of having the Higher Rate Mobility Component of DLA why do I need to prove that I use a wheelchair? It is well known that the road I live in is ‘parking premium street’ In council-speak, so why waste my time and the council’s money on paying yet another OT to assess me again?

In September last year I filled in the form and got someone to post it for me. It took seven weeks and four frustrating phone calls to finally get an appointment for my assessment. I was lucky that a friend was able to come with me and that someone in the council managed to get permission for me to park in the Town Hall car park, so I didn’t have to risk getting a parking ticket, as parking in notoriously difficult near the Town Hall.

My OT assessor was a young man, only a couple of years out of college as a guess. I used to employ OTs at work and this one did not appear very knowledgeable. Despite giving him a written account of my Medical History and Medications, he asked a number of questions which indicated he didn’t understand my medical conditions. Within 15mins we were out of the door again, having been told I was eligible for the bay! A waste of time & money for all concerned!

That appointment was in mid November last year. By Xmas I still had no further letter from the council saying when the signage would be amended to personalise the bay.

Eventually, half way through January and after several more phone calls, I got a letter saying the work would be done by the end of February. I was also sent a special permit, which I proudly displayed on my car windscreen. February came and went and still no new signage. During the first week of March, I finally managed to speak to someone who assured me the work will be done within the next two weeks.

Still nothing happened. One Friday however, several bays including the one outside my flat were all suspended. I mistakenly presumed that the personalisation of my bay was about to happen. No workmen turned up and the only other activity was the tow truck taking three cars away. A bonus for the council of £1,000, the cost for the drivers to get their cars back from the car pound.

Again, more phone calls, this time I was given an actual date 7th April. I was told that the suspension notices would allocate a temporary bay for me further down on my side of the road. Whether I can access it or not, of course depends on other drivers leaving the space free.

On Sunday evening, no luck! The space was occupied by another car. I can’t move my car before 8am on Monday morning, as my carers don’t come that early and if I put my contact lenses in at that time I will have to take them out mid afternoon, greatly restricting my day. I managed to park fairly near my flat on the other side of the road.

The first thing I heard this morning when I woke was the tow truck taking cars away. More money for the Council! Eventually at about 11am the workmen arrived and within 45mins the bay was finally personalised, so nobody else should park there in future. If anyone does, the police as well as the council have the power to tow the offender’s vehicle away.

For now, I’m just delighted to have my personalised bay, after 8 months of battling. It will give me greater freedom, I often worry about going out at night, or coming home in the evening, as experience has taught me that is the most common time for non Blue Badge Holders to occupy my bay. All I hope is that others will respect the signage and park elsewhere!

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