The battle for a Blue Badge parking space in the East of England has increased since the introduction of ‘hidden disabilities’ to the criteria in England 12 months ago, a new study reveals.
There are 93 Blue Badge holders per one council-owned parking space(2) across the East of England, on average. That’s according to new data obtained through Freedom of Information requests by Confused.com(1). Since the scheme was updated in England(3), there have been 3,757 applications for Blue Badges under the ‘hidden disability’ criteria in the region. However, only 86 new dedicated parking spaces have been added in the past 12 months(1) to accommodate these drivers, suggesting the demand for a parking spot is now greater than before.
For some drivers, finding a space might be more difficult in different areas of the region. In fact, Cambridgeshire could offer the biggest challenge for Blue Badge holders, with 136 permit holders to one council-owned parking space. Meanwhile, drivers in Bedfordshire have the most chance of finding a space, as there are 41 Blue Badge holders to every space.
The shortage of Blue Badge parking spaces is also seen across the UK, as data shows there are 38 Blue Badge holders per one council-owned parking space(2) across Britain, on average. According to the data, there have been more than 35,000 applications for Blue Badges under the ‘hidden disability’ criteria, while only 1,800 new dedicated parking spaces have been added in the past 12 months.
Dedicated Blue Badge parking spaces are available for badge holders, as they’re often closer to entrances or offer more room to get in and out of the car. However, data shows that many drivers in the region are also taking advantage of this, as nearly 18,000 fines were issued for misusing a Blue Badge parking space in the East of England, last year.
However, with more conditions now included in the scheme, further research by Confused.com has found that many drivers are unsure who would or wouldn’t be eligible. In fact, more than one in four (27%) are confused about which medical conditions would be included. To help make it clearer for people, Confused.com has compiled the criteria in a guide to applying for a Blue Badge. The government has updated the eligibility criteria to offer clear and consistent guidelines for councils.
For people with hidden disabilities, such as autism or dementia, their struggle isn’t necessarily physical. In having access to Blue Badge bays, these drivers are offered peace of mind that they will be able to find a parking space which will relieve them of any stress or worry about travelling. While this change only came into effect in England last year, councils in Wales and Scotland have been working to these criteria for a number of years.
Changes to the Blue Badge criteria has been accepted by drivers, with nearly half (48%) considering it to be a positive move. But they also seem to understand the pressure this will be putting on Blue Badge drivers to find a parking space. In fact, one in three (30%) are calling for councils to extend the number of Blue Badge bays to accommodate the increase in permit holders.