AS A result of new legislation which comes into force on January 1, 2012, Angus Council, like all other local authorities in the UK, has been required to make some changes to the administration of the Blue Badge Scheme.
However, users of these badges should notice little difference in their acquisition or use.
New applicants for a disabled person’s parking badge or Blue Badge will be issued with a new design of badge from January 1.
A new style application form, which is larger and gathers more detail, will also be introduced on New Year’s Day.
The facility to make online applications for a Blue Badge will also be available via www.bluebadgescotland.org.
As of that day, all badges will be issued centrally for Scotland and not posted or handed out by individual local authorities.
However, Angus Council will continue to administer the scheme and assess all Blue Badge applications.
The charge will remain at £20 and be free for a child.
The convener of social work and health, Councillor Alison Andrews, said: “These changes to the Blue Badge scheme are a result of reform measures introduced by Transport Scotland.
“The measures are designed to make the scheme fairer, to tackle fraud and misuse and to improve administration of the scheme. ACCESS offices will still issue and receive application forms.
“However, due to the new legislation, it will no longer be possible to issue a badge over the counter at our local ACCESS Offices.”
Existing Blue Badge holders will not see any change until their badge needs renewed, but if a badge needs replaced before its expiry date a charge of £4.60 will be made for a replacement.
Some additional information may also be required if there is a need to replace a Blue Badge prior to it expiring.
More information can be obtained by calling 01307 474675 or going online to www.bluebadgescotland.org
When Angus Council considered the proposed changes in August, social work director Mr Robert Peat said there are around 274,000 Blue Badges issued by local authorities currently in use in Scotland, representing over five per cent of the Scottish population.
The new arrangements are being developed by Northgate Information Solutions which will administrate the service throughout Great Britain.
Perceived improvements include having a central database to allow a common numbering system enabling more effective control of badges. Enforcement checks will be made easier and quicker from anywhere in the country by any local authority using a desktop PC or a hand held device or SMART phone.
However, one Angus user of a blue badge, who asked not to be named, expressed regret that there is nothing in the new legislation to deter able-bodied drivers who park, willy-nilly, in spaces designated for those with mobility issues.
He said: “In my own case I need to be able to open the car door as wide as it will go, in order to get in or out.
“The spaces in car parks with extra width round them are perfect - but not if they are used be people who look fully fit, and have no blue badge on display on their vehicles.