By Simon Sansome
Like most people who drive around London, my blue badge is essential for parking close to facilities I need to access.
Did you know that there are 32 borough councils in the London area, all of them have different rules and regulations on blue badge access and parking? This means you have to be an expert, do a lot of research every time you go out in London? I spend more time online on the borough councils’ websites than I do travelling the capital and then once you found the information it is still not 100% clear if you can park there or not.
London boroughs are so complex, so complicated and so entwined with each other it is ridiculous to have 32 different traffic regulations for blue badge holders in London. There needs to be one universal regulation that oversees the 32 different boroughs regarding disabled access around the capital.
Only 30% of The London Underground has step free access.
Blue Badge holders do not get a discount for ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zones)
32 Borough Councils in London, all have different rules and regulations on Blue Badge parking.
There are 2.3 million Blue Badge holders in England.
Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, City of London have the lowest applications for blue badges in England all below 2%.
There were 454 prosecutions in London last year against Blue Badge holders, London making up 65% of all prosecutions in England.
Lambeth Borough Council had the highest number of prosecutions in the UK in 2021 for people misusing Blue Badges.
Local councils have a duty of care and their main purpose is to provide a good quality of services, to make things simpler for the local community and people visiting that community. The 32 borough councils have completely failed on this aspect regarding blue badge parking in London.
You can drive down one street and be in Westminster and then by the end of the street you are in Chelsea. It is only by chance that if you see a street sign it tells you which borough you are in. However, if you are looking for a car parking space and driving around you can easily go into a different borough without realising, which is exactly what happened to me.
In November, last year when visiting London for work, I parked in a residential bay. Many borough councils allow you to do this, with a blue badge. There was a disabled bay available, however I did not want to take this away from the local residents so I parked on an end bay so I could still get my wheelchair out of the boot.
I was there for two days and did not return to the car until it was time to leave, on returning to the car I found two car parking tickets issued by the borough council. It turns out I was about 35 yards from a borough I believed I was in. I appeal the tickets but still had to pay for one of them. If I was in the neighbouring borough which was 35 yards away, I would have been able to park there completely free of charge using my blue badge.
On the same trip to London, I needed to access a workplace, the road had signs saying, bicycles buses and taxis only. In some parts of London, you are allowed to go down these roads but in others it is completely prohibited, I only found this out when I received a ticket four months later. When you are driving round London, it is very difficult to pull over, go to the council’s website to see if you can access this road or not using your blue badge.
So, I am appealing this ticket because, when I called the borough council to explain the circumstances, they said they have updated their system to say that blue badges can now go down the street in question, where beforehand they could not. So, in total a trip to London for a wheelchair user and a blue badge holder, with an adapted Motability car cost £195, but as successfully appealed one ticket it only cost me £130.
Who knew that going down to London you would need a PhD in blue badge logistics to get to work in London.