Disabled people in Greater Manchester town have been left 'isolated and struggling'

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Delays to blue badge applications have left disabled people in Stockport “isolated and struggling”, the town’s MP has claimed. Labour MP for Stockport Navendu Mishra told Parliament in December that constituents have told him the processing time for a blue badge is “often much longer” than the 12 weeks the council claims is the average wait.

The blue badge scheme allows people with certain disabilities and health conditions to park in designated spaces which are often much closer to town centres and shops. In Stockport, it also allows holders to park without charge or time limit in otherwise restricted areas, and park on yellow lines for up to 3 hours, unless a loading ban is in place.

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The council said that on average 90 percent of applications are processed within three weeks, but some “may take longer” if further medical supporting evidence is needed. One resident in Stockport, who did not want their name to be published, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that their late father’s blue badge took months to arrive after the initial application was rejected.

They applied in September 2019 and received a rejection 11 weeks later. Their appeal was also rejected, but they eventually did receive the blue badge in April 2020 – seven months after the first application. They said the delay was partially caused by the application criteria leaning too much on physical disabilities rather than conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia which their father suffered from.

The 50-year-old resident told the LDRS: “My dad struggled with his walking and was no longer able to drive, to get him out and about we needed to apply for a blue badge. Stockport council are not interested in understanding applications for people with hidden disabilities.”

The resident’s father sadly passed away in November last year. The Department for Transport lists a number of criteria on their website for conditions which may be eligible for people wanting to apply for a blue badge, including not being able to walk. It also states that local authorities are ultimately responsible to “decide if you are eligible for a badge.”

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Mr Mishra told Parliament that he blames the “rigid criteria” set by the Department for Transport. He called for more resources for local authorities, and the need to extend the qualifying criteria for people with degenerative medical conditions.

Disabled badge holders parking spaceDisabled badge holders parking space
Disabled badge holders parking space

Responding to the claims of blue badge delays, a spokesperson from Stockport council said: “On average 90pc of applications are now processed within three weeks of receipt. Applications may take longer to process if we need to request further medical supporting evidence.

“Applicants may also be asked to attend an Independent Mobility Assessment with one of our Occupational Therapists, with the result that occasionally applications can take longer.”

They added: “We would like to pass on our condolences to the family following their sad loss. When the council receives a Blue Badge application, we have to follow a strict criteria set by the Department for Transport. Against this criteria, we assess all the information provided in the application form and any supporting medical evidence. Blue badges last for three years before the applicant has to reapply.

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“In a positive move for badge holders, the guidelines have recently been amended for applicants reapplying who have a degenerative condition that medical evidence shows will not improve. This means that applicants are only required to provide full medical information with their first application, easing the burden on families supporting their loved one.

“Any subsequent renewal applications use a simplified form, which is easier to follow and these applications are automatically issued with a badge when we receive them.”

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