Last Friday I introduced a Private Member’s Bill which includes clauses to clarify local authority powers over the Disabled Parking Badge scheme and extends it to people working on UK military bases abroad. The Bill has already been through the Commons unamended and unimpeded because it has cross-party support.
In the Lords, as is customary, the debate strayed wider than the Bill because so many Peers have experience of the Blue Badge scheme – and were keen to take the opportunity to air their experiences. There were stories of ridiculously fierce parking wardens, people who park in disabled bays in supermarket car parks saying they are just going in “for a few minutes”, and the difficulties of dropping off a disabled person and then parking in a disabled bay without the disabled person themselves in the car.
The Government has already made very welcome changes to the scheme without needing a Bill. There is now a national database of blue badge holders, so an enforcement officer can ring and check by the road if a badge is valid or not. But some changes need primary legislation. One clause allows the exact design of the badge not to be made public to prevent clever forgers. Another clause allows an enforcement officer – not just a police officer – to recover a badge so that, if it is found to be stolen, for example, it can be cancelled.
With any luck, the Bill might well be law early in the New Year.