'Hidden disabilities' extension results in 'surge' in blue badge uptake in Portsmouth

Applications for blue badges are now open to people with hidden disabilities such as autism and mental health problems
Applications for blue badges are now open to people with hidden disabilities such as autism and mental health problems
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ALMOST 100 people in Portsmouth have already applied for blue badges since they were extended to those with ‘hidden disabilities’ last month.

Since the end of August applications for disabled parking cards have been opened nationally for previously excluded conditions such as mental health issues and autism.

At a traffic and transport meeting yesterday (Sep 26) officers explained how the change had sparked a ‘surge’ in applications.

Denise Bastow, parking office manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We have had 99 applications as of Monday and most of these were within the first two days.

‘We have already undertaken a few assessments. We have approved about 30 per cent, refused 50 per cent and asked 20 per cent for more information.’

Prior to the extension 6,857 residents in Portsmouth owned blue badges.

Her colleague Karen Wigley, professional lead for occupational therapy at the council, reminded councillors that people with hidden disabilities were not automatically ‘entitled’ to a blue badge.

‘It’s really helpful for us for people to consider how a blue badge is going to make a difference,’ she said.

‘It’s about the impact the blue badge will have on you. For instance if you always have someone with you because you’ve got no sense of road safety you’re always going to have to have someone with you regardless of whether you have a blue badge or not.’

Traffic and transportation boss, Councillor Lynne Stagg,  welcomed the new legislation. She commented: ‘Quite a few people have said to me this is great idea, it’s brilliant.’

Her views were met by Cllr Simon Bosher who asked that information be made available to councillors in order to help residents with the process.

He said: ‘I totally support this. I am beginning to get a lot of questions from parents of children with hidden disabilities about how they go about getting it.

‘It might be for the benefit of ward councillor if there was a sample form they could see and a short overview of what the process is.’

Officers agreed to supply councillors with the necessary information.

Applications can be made via the government’s website or through forms that are available at the Portsmouth council civic offices in Guildhall Square.