By Max Clarke
Following major reforms to the Blue Badge scheme announced earlier this year, seven major supermarket chains have now given their support for the Government’s drive to eradicate Blue Badge disabled parking abuse.
Responding to the concerns of disability groups, Local Transport Minister Norman Baker wrote to all major supermarkets urging them to do what they could to enforce the scheme on their premises. So far Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Lidl have all responded positively in support of the Government’s drive to ensure strict enforcement of the parking bays in their car parks which are privately owned.
"Many disabled people and disability groups have told me about the problems they have in finding a disabled bay at supermarkets because of their abuse by people who have no justification for parking in reserved spaces,” said Norman Baker.
"I am delighted to have secured the support of the major supermarket groups and to know that they share my view that abuse of Blue Badge parking bays needs to be tackled, protecting customers who rely on such spaces. I hope other large retailers will now follow suit and consider what action they can take to help their Blue Badge customers."
The badges provide a vital lifeline to over 2.5 million disabled people every year by prioritising key parking spaces close to important services. However, rising levels of badge fraud have prevented those who genuinely need to use the parking spaces from doing so.
The seven supermarkets have said that drivers found abusing designated disabled bays will be issued with parking charge notices in some circumstances, alongside other measures including car park patrols, leafleting of vehicles and requests over in-store public address systems.
The major reforms to the Blue Badge scheme announced by Norman Baker earlier this year include a new badge design that is harder to forge, as well as improved enforcement powers for local authorities. However, the scheme does not cover privately owned car parks. The support of supermarkets is therefore an important step in ensuring wider enforcement of the scheme.