HL Deb 12 January 2005 vol 668 cc71-2WA
Lord Harrison

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What financial and non-financial support is available to schemes which help prevent misuse of designated disabled parking spaces by able bodied drivers. [HL580]

Lord Davies of Oldham

The Government have offered their support to Baywatch, a coalition of the major supermarkets and disability organisations (including the Disabled Drivers' Association and the Disabled Drivers' Motoring Club), who are committed to encouraging more protection of disabled persons' parking bays in retail car parks from abuse by non-disabled drivers. The Department for Transport has provided funding for the campaign's recent initiative to raise awareness of disabled persons' parking bays in supermarket car parks. Officials have worked closely with representatives of the campaign and are considering a report on the initiative before discussing with them how best to take it forward.

In respect of the blue badge scheme of parking concessions for disabled people there are a wide variety of powers available to local authorities, who are responsible for administering the scheme, to tackle misuse of disabled persons' parking spaces and abuse of the badge itself.

In respect of disabled persons parking bays:

it is an offence under Section 47 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to park a vehicle which is not displaying a badge in a designated disabled persons' parking bay.

In terms of the badge:

it is an offence under Section 117 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the badge itself to be misused by a non-disabled person, the maximum fine on conviction being £1,000;

local authorities have powers to withdraw a badge if the holder constantly misuses it or allows it to be misused by others.

The issues of misuse and abuse of badges were considered during a recent comprehensive review of the scheme, which concluded with 47 recommendations (including a number of enforcement measures) from DfT's statutory advisers, the Disabled Persons' Transport Advisory Committee. The majority of the recommendations have been accepted by the Government and are being taken forward. The enforcement measures include an important power for the police, traffic wardens and local authority parking enforcement officers to inspect badges to check details and the photograph of the badge holder. Additionally, consideration is being given to the feasibility of establishing a national database of badge holders.

Provision for a power to inspect badges was included in the Traffic Management Act 2004. It will be implemented by commencement order this year. This will allow time for guidance to be prepared and issued to those who will be using the power. It has always been the Government's intention to implement all the changes at the earliest opportunity.