Essex County Council, working with the North and South Essex Parking Partnerships, is announcing a temporary amnesty for people with a Blue Badge (disabled parking badges) which expired on or after the 1st of April 2012. This will last until the end of June this year.
This means that people will continue to be able to use their expired Blue Badge without facing parking fines. Blue Badge holders who qualify under the amnesty will also have any parking fines issued after April rescinded on appeal.
Blue Badges are now issued through a new centralised system operated by the Department for Transport covering the whole of the UK, although individual applications are initially processed and reviewed by Essex Cares, which is owned by the County Council.
The Government wrote to all local authorities last year, asking them to stop automatically renewing Blue Badges from 1st April where people qualify on what are called discretionary criteria. From April this year, everyone who does not automatically qualify for a Blue Badge must now undergo an Independent Mobility Assessment (IMA) The Assessments are carried out at clinics throughout Essex, with a provision for home visits where this is necessary.
It is anticipated that approximately 12,000 assessments will be required in 2012-13 and the temporary amnesty has been introduced to enable Essex Cares to deal with a large number of cases which require an IMA.
The arrangements for issuing Blue Badges will be reviewed in April next year.
County Councillor John Aldridge, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said, “We are very concerned about the delays that have occurred in renewing the Blue Badges under the new arrangements. I believe that this amnesty is necessary to ensure that Blue Badge holders can continue to use their badges whilst the outcome of their application is being determined. We are also improving the process of getting IMA appointments which will mean much shorter waiting times."