Edwina Hart AM CStJ MBE, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
In May 2015, I updated Members on the Blue Badge Scheme and announced the establishment of a Blue Badge Task and Finish Group to review the scheme and provide advice on changes to the scheme.
The Group’s report and recommendations, along with the Welsh Government response to the report, were published in December 2015. Some of the Group’s recommendations cannot be realised immediately, as they will require changes to primary legislation in order to be implemented. I am clear however that I want to see improvement in the delivery of the scheme by local authorities.
In January 2016 I launched a consultation on the recommendations which could be implemented without new primary legislation, including proposals for extending eligibility to the scheme to people with temporary conditions; streamlining the administrative process for reapplications; and improving enforcement to prevent people using badges fraudulently and taking the parking spaces that vulnerable badge holders need.
Wales is leading the way, having extended eligibility criteria to include people with cognitive impairments who are unable to travel safely and independently, and which is being considered for adoption in the other parts of the UK. Today I have taken Wales further again, by tabling regulations which will extend the eligibility for Blue Badges to those who have a temporary impairment to their mobility, lasting for at least a year. It is intended that this will include people with mobility impairments, for example people:
- with complex leg fractures with external fixators
- who have experienced a stroke or head injury and are making a slow but steady recovery
- with spinal trauma with neurological leg functional loss and are making a slow but steady recovery
- with severe functional leg impairments who are awaiting or undergone joint replacement and are making a slower recovery than expected
These regulations will mean that those with severely impaired mobility, who will eventually regain their mobility, can benefit from the concessions that a Blue Badge gives. This will make it easier for them to access services and facilities to support their recovery and continue to live independently during this period.