The UK Blue Badge scheme was set up in the 1970’s (originally as the Orange Badge scheme). It operates across the UK, providing parking concessions for on-street parking for disabled people – travelling either as drivers or passengers. It allows Badge holders in Scotland to park without charge or time limit in the on-street parking environment; including single and double yellow lines (unless a loading ban is in place).
The scope of the Blue Badge Scheme has expanded beyond the provisions of the original Act of Parliament regarding on-street car parking concessions and has been adopted by some operators of off-street car parks (in supermarkets, hospitals and other places) as a way of meeting their obligations to disabled people under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act, 2010.
The overall aim of the research was to explore Blue Badge holders' views on using their Badge and the value the Badge gives them. The research findings will help to inform the Blue Badge scheme to be improved and developed.
- Respondents used their Blue Badge mostly for shopping and medical appointments. Focus group participants spoke mostly of parking in off-street disabled person's parking bays, such as supermarket car parks, hospital car parks or shopping malls. Where on-street parking was used, it tended to be single yellow lines.
- There was consensus that there was a general lack of Blue Badge parking space provision. This was most noticeable in hospital car parks as well as with on-street provision in town centres.
- Telephone respondents indicated that the value of the Badge was that they could park closer to their destination and take benefit from the wider parking bays. While these were also mentioned as benefits by the focus group participants; for them, the greatest value of the Badge was securing their independence and ability to 'get out and about' allowing a certain quality of life.
- Without the Blue Badge, most people agreed that they would go out less often. Some went so far as to say they would be 'housebound' without their Blue Badge and for one participant it allowed her to continue working. Parents said that they would be especially put off from travelling with children without their Badges.
- The vast majority felt that they had a good understanding of the rules and restrictions of using their Blue Badge. However some debated the rules on where the badge allowed you to park. For example, there were contradictory views as to whether parking on a double yellow line was allowed.
- Misuse of the Blue Badge scheme was perceived as a significant issue; particularly the use of spaces by people without a Badge