We have long been interested in the Blue Badge Scheme and has regularly sought opportunities to gain a greater understanding of how the scheme operates. At present the Blue Badge scheme allows badge holders to park closer to their required destination. The badge is for on-street parking only with off-street private car parks, such as those provided in hospitals or supermarket car parks, governed by separate rules. Any qualifying person can apply for a Blue Badge parking permit online, through their local council, but certain criteria need to be met and in some instances an assessment from a doctor is a prerequisite. The Badge once issued is valid for 3 years.

So far so simple, but that doesn’t mean that the system cannot be improved to the advantage of badge holders and those providing disabled parking spaces. The current political situation not withstanding Brexit, the examples of our European neighbours should be able to provide some interesting examples both positive and negative.  

With that in mind we have been working with the European Parking Association (EPA), and the London South Bank University (LSBU), to collect data on Blue Badges schemes across Europe. Some will say what is the purpose of this work? What does it matter what those abroad are up to? Well for a degree of context, the former National Fraud Authority estimated that misuse of the scheme in the UK was estimated to cost £46 million a year due to fraudulent use, with many local authorities lacking adequate penalty policies or the resource to enforce them. In these cash strapped times, any methods that ensure that Blue Badge spaces are available for the right people and that Local Authority resources are being used effectively is surely a good thing. We should not limit ourselves to just these shores in determining best practice and that is something which the BPA has long been championing.

So, to that end, we commissioned London South Bank University (LSBU) to conduct a research programme of the different schemes across the continent. We and the EPA set out some clear objective parameters for the research, namely; to better understand the eligibility criteria, lifespan, and concessions available for Blue Badges across Europe.  The information once collected will help provide the basis for an improved service for genuine Blue Badge holders and assist authorities across Europe, to enforce more efficiently and thereby reduce abuse.

LSBU research revealed a range of differences between the individual countries, from the unsurprising - such as that each of the 22 countries requires application through health status forms and final approval from a local authority, and that the majority charge a nominal fee (for example Ireland €35, Poland 21zł); to the more confusing, such as the range of validity periods, for example Croatian Blue Badges are valid for 1 year, while Finland’s have a 10-year lifespan; in fact the average length of issue is 5 years. But there are still some significant outliers such as Belgium where cards can be issued for life.

The research, while comprehensive, did reveal some significant gaps, for example Austria, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovenia all had limited information regarding their schemes and processes, limiting detailed analysis. Additionally, while card holders are permitted cross-country usage within the EU, there is not yet a common platform to obtain information on how to do this.

We are determined to use this research to help support the EPA, in developing a consistent approach to the overall process and execution of Blue Badge schemes across the 22 countries. The ultimate goal is a harmonisation of the process across the continent and establishment of a centralised web-based service hub providing a European Register for Blue Badge Schemes.

This is just one area example of how we are focussing upon research, international collaboration and developing standards is bearing fruit. We remain committed to developing the professional knowledge for the sector and improving the parking for all. This research and the outcomes from it will aid in the development of standards in the sector and help deliver a positive experience for all.

We have long been interested in the Blue Badge Scheme and has regularly sought opportunities to gain a greater understanding of how the scheme operates. At present the Blue Badge scheme allows badge holders to park closer to their required destination. The badge is for on-street parking only with off-street private car parks, such as those provided in hospitals or supermarket car parks, governed by separate rules. Any qualifying person can apply for a Blue Badge parking permit online, through their local council, but certain criteria need to be met and in some instances an assessment from a doctor is a prerequisite. The Badge once issued is valid for 3 years.

So far so simple, but that doesn’t mean that the system cannot be improved to the advantage of badge holders and those providing disabled parking spaces. The current political situation not withstanding Brexit, the examples of our European neighbours should be able to provide some interesting examples both positive and negative.  

With that in mind we have been working with the European Parking Association (EPA), and the London South Bank University (LSBU), to collect data on Blue Badges schemes across Europe. Some will say what is the purpose of this work? What does it matter what those abroad are up to? Well for a degree of context, the former National Fraud Authority estimated that misuse of the scheme in the UK was estimated to cost £46 million a year due to fraudulent use, with many local authorities lacking adequate penalty policies or the resource to enforce them. In these cash strapped times, any methods that ensure that Blue Badge spaces are available for the right people and that Local Authority resources are being used effectively is surely a good thing. We should not limit ourselves to just these shores in determining best practice and that is something which the BPA has long been championing.

So, to that end, we commissioned London South Bank University (LSBU) to conduct a research programme of the different schemes across the continent. We and the EPA set out some clear objective parameters for the research, namely; to better understand the eligibility criteria, lifespan, and concessions available for Blue Badges across Europe.  The information once collected will help provide the basis for an improved service for genuine Blue Badge holders and assist authorities across Europe, to enforce more efficiently and thereby reduce abuse.

LSBU research revealed a range of differences between the individual countries, from the unsurprising - such as that each of the 22 countries requires application through health status forms and final approval from a local authority, and that the majority charge a nominal fee (for example Ireland €35, Poland 21zł); to the more confusing, such as the range of validity periods, for example Croatian Blue Badges are valid for 1 year, while Finland’s have a 10-year lifespan; in fact the average length of issue is 5 years. But there are still some significant outliers such as Belgium where cards can be issued for life.

The research, while comprehensive, did reveal some significant gaps, for example Austria, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovenia all had limited information regarding their schemes and processes, limiting detailed analysis. Additionally, while card holders are permitted cross-country usage within the EU, there is not yet a common platform to obtain information on how to do this.

We are determined to use this research to help support the EPA, in developing a consistent approach to the overall process and execution of Blue Badge schemes across the 22 countries. The ultimate goal is a harmonisation of the process across the continent and establishment of a centralised web-based service hub providing a European Register for Blue Badge Schemes.

This is just one area example of how we are focussing upon research, international collaboration and developing standards is bearing fruit. We remain committed to developing the professional knowledge for the sector and improving the parking for all. This research and the outcomes from it will aid in the development of standards in the sector and help deliver a positive experience for all.

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