Councillor wants ‘warning shot’ over blue badge abuse

Cllr Stuart MacPhail
Cllr Stuart MacPhail
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A KIRKCALDY councillor has called for a “warning shot” to be fired at those he suspects of abusing the blue badge scheme for disabled users.

That was the feeling of Cllr Stuart MacPhail as Kirkcaldy Area Committee met yesterday (Wednesday) to discuss ongoing parking issues on Kirkcaldy High Street.

Councillors heard from Inspector David Latto that police had issued 75 fixed penalty notices to blue badge holders parking outwith permitted timescales in 2012/13.

Insp Latto also described difficulties policing a section of eight disabled parking bays at the west end of the street outside Poundstretchers.

Meagre

But criticism of the meagre signage for the disabled bays quickly spilled over into a debate about the blue badge scheme instead.

Cllr MacPhail commented: “The disabled bays are not clearly marked - unlike, say Asda - and we need to make them as clear as other people do.

“I was standing outside Kirkcaldy4All for half an hour watching disabled drivers parking on the High Street and it confirmed what I know to be the case - a car displaying a blue badge does not mean the driver is disabled.”

Referring to an NHS study which showed 50 per cent of drivers with blue badges were not the actual badge holder, Cllr MacPhail (pictured) questioned whether 50 per cent of Kirkcaldy’s disabled bays were being abused in any case.

“We need to look at the blue badge scheme to fire a warning shot to blue badge holders,” he said.

Careful

However, Cllr Susan Leslie quickly retorted: “Sixty-one blue badge holders were checked [by police] with no offences found. We have to be very careful as lay people in deciding whether someone deserves a blue badge or is disabled.”

According to the committee chairman, Cllr Neil Crooks, Fife has more blue badge holders as a percentage of the population than any other region in Scotland.

He also reacted to news that it could take up to six months for transportation services to change the signage of the disabled bays, despite previous requests made by the committee.

Cllr Neil Crooks concluded: “That no action has been taken is actually an insult to this comittee, quite frankly.”