More than a million people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as autism will be offered Blue Badges in a massive extension of the free parking scheme.
Ministers said it was only fair that those with less visible disabilities – including mental illness – were offered the ‘lifeline’ of a permit, which allows holders to park as close as possible to their destination, for free in pay-and-display areas and for up to three hours on yellow lines.
But the plan, which could see the number of Blue Badges in England soar from the current 2.4million to nearly four million, has sparked fears of a shortage of disabled parking bays. There are also concerns about ‘badge fraud’.
Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed how thousands of motorists caught fraudulently using disabled parking permits were being named and shamed by councils.
But Transport Minister Jesse Norman insisted it was right to make the biggest change to the scheme since it was created in 1970.
He said: ‘Blue badges are a lifeline for disabled people, giving them the freedom and confidence to get to work and visit friends independently.
‘These changes will ensure this scheme is extended to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedoms that many of us take for granted.’
Source: Daily Mail