Generally, in England, badge holders can park on single or double yellow lines for three hours and at parking meters and pay and display machines for as long as they require.
The blue badge scheme is a government run initiative designed to enable disabled vehicle users to park as closely as possible to their intended destination. It's available to those who are registered blind, receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, or receive a War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement. Consideration is also afforded to those facing exceptional circumstances, for example with limited mobility in their upper body, or with young children who require bulky medical equipment. If you are eligible for a blue badge, you can use it in any car in which you are either a driver or a passenger.
To apply for a blue badge, you can either contact your local authority or access the application process online. Some authorities can also arrange for a parking bay to be marked on the street outside your property, although different areas have different rules and restrictions.
Generally, in England, badge holders can park on single or double yellow lines for three hours and at parking meters and pay and display machines for as long as they require. In Scotland, they can do so without a set time limit. It is prohibited to park in areas where a ban on loading or unloading is enforced. Some local councils will also allow parking in pedestrian zones. At present, the scheme does not operate in the four central London Boroughs of London City, Camden, Kensington or Westminster. However, there are some blue parking bays in these areas, and the badge does mean the congestion charge is waived. The blue badge also often allows exemption from certain toll and transport fees, and can be used in many other countries in the EU in similar ways.
The blue badge scheme is subject to the decisions of different authorities, and as such can be open to contention and abuse.
Last month a disability group in Fife, Scotland took the decision to boycott Kirkcaldy town center after a decision was made to ban blue badge parking on its High Street. The scheme has been widely abused by people either using a disabled relative's badge after their death, without their knowledge, or using photocopied and counterfeit badges.
It is thought as many as 50% of badges in circulation are either misused or abused in some way. This year, new measures were announced to combat such cases. Authorities have been given on the spot power to recover misused badges, the old handwritten badges have been replaced by new, harder to replicate electronic designs and the cost of a badge has increased from £2 to £10 for the first time in 30 years.
Individual authorities have been tackling the problem in different ways.
Manchester City, for example, has its own Blue Badge Enforcement Team on patrol, as well as naming and shaming abusers of the scheme on its website. Supermarkets have also supported the scheme, and 7 major retail chains including Tesco and Waitrose pledged their backing for the crackdown on misuse and abuse in May 2011.
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