Not fair to punish the disabled for permit fraud

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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Being able to park close to where you’re going is a luxury for many of us – but to some it’s absolutely essential.

And that is why the blue badge system of disabled parking permits is so important.

Without these passes, disabled people and others who find it hard to get around could find themselves isolated – and in some cases effectively trapped in their homes.

For these people, paying for a blue badge is not an option – it’s a necessity.

That is why we understand the concerns over the recent increase in cost for these badges.

To pensioners who are struggling in these difficult economic times, any rise, however small, is another burden to bear.

And as Brian and Geraldine Nery tell us today, having to get new photographs for the permits pushes the cost up further.

However, we have also reported many times how the current blue badge system is open to abuse.

As usual it’s a case of a few unscrupulous people making life harder for the vast majority of legitimate permit holders.

But the fact is that the old-style badges are too easy to fake.

The government says the new, secure versions are much harder to abuse – and also a lot more expensive to produce, and so the cost must be passed on to those who will use them.

As Mr and Mrs Nery would surely agree, there is an inherent unfairness in the price rise being passed on to those who have used the passes honestly and legitimately.

Not all disabled people, of course, are on the breadline but they are perhaps more likely to find money tight than some others.

Perhaps there needs to be a wider view taken here.

If the new passes are more secure then we would hope that there will be fewer incidents of abuse – and therefore less need to spend officer time and council money on tracking down offenders and taking them to court.

And we hope it might therefore follow that the money saved could be used to soak up the increased cost of these badges in cases where disabled people find it hard to meet the cost.