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Blue badge holders only

A controversial one, but bear with me: I am not condoning the misuse of disabled parking bays.

It is common to see private car parks such as supermarkets, shopping centres, cinemas etc providing accessible parking bays with signage stating “BLUE BADGE HOLDERS ONLY”. My wife is disabled but does not have (and does not wish to have) a blue badge. But I still park in disabled bays when she is with me. I feel it is morally acceptable, and the law is on my side.

The blue badge scheme was established to provide disabled drivers and passengers with certain exemptions and/or priveliges on council owned roads.

If you have a blue badge yourself, take a few minutes to re-read the booklet that came with it (you did read it didn’t you?) In there you will find the following phrase a blue badge is intended for on-street parking only. So supermarkets can impose whatever arbitrary rules they like about blue badges: they have no meaning and I can ignore it. Unfortunately, with many private car parks being “managed” by greedy external agencies who threaten me that I may be fined for parking in a disabled bay without following their meaningless rules, the myth self-propagates.

Private car parks have a legal duty to provide accessible spaces as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010. It is this act, and the protected characteristics within it which determine a person’s entitlement to use a disabled parking space: not a blue badge. By telling a disabled person they cannot use a reasonable adjustment unless they agree to be labelled with a blue badge, the car park owners are themselves in breach of the equality act, and are on very unstable ground.

Just as there is an increase in awareness that not every disability is visible, remember that not every disabled person wants to be labelled with a blue badge.