New bid to stamp out badge cheats

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blue badge holders in Kirkcaldy are being warned that changes to the parking scheme are on the way.

The scheme, administered by Fife Council on behalf of the Scottish Government, has been in place since 1971 and helps people with disabilities retain their independence by allowing them to park close to where they need to go.

There are over 21,500 blue badge holders in Fife and the changes being introduced by the government are designed to make the scheme fairer, tackle fraud and misuse of the scheme, and improve customer service.

Jane Pilmer, Fife Council’s resources co-ordinator, explained: “From January 1 all blue badge holders who want to renew their badges or apply for one will have to use a new national application form.

“The new form is different to the old one and people will find the questions asked are looking for more detail about their physical disability and how it affects their ability to walk.

“The blue badges themselves have also been redesigned to make them harder to tamper with, copy or forge. They will be made of plastic instead of cardboard, include digital photographs and will be more robust.”

The improvements to the scheme are being welcomed by disability groups in Fife.

Alan Suttie, chief executive of Fife Society for the Blind, said: “By the nature of their disability, blind and partially-sighted people cannot drive and are totally reliant on either public transport or other people to take then shopping, on social visits or to appointments.

“For this reason the blue badge scheme is an essential element to ensure they can be taken as close to a venue as possible allowing the driver/guide to leave the vehicle and guide them.

“Improvements to the scheme will hopefully cut down on abuse and misuse which often result in our volunteer guides and drivers being unable to park and drop blind people off.”

The Fife branch of the MS Society added: “We welcome this change in the scheme, which will go some way to alleviating the frustrations and stress that it can cause by the inconsiderate few who are guilty of misusing it.”

People should continue to use their current blue badges until the expiry date and apply for a new one six weeks before the expiry date.

Further information is available at www.fifedirect.org.uk/BlueBadge.