PLANS to streamline Wigan’s Blue Badge scheme for disabled drivers have been welcomed.
The new system for new and renewal applications has been designed to slash waiting times.
Successful applicants will now visit Wigan Life Centre to make payment using the chip and PIN facilities, have their photograph taken and application evidence checked, all in one operation.
Those requiring further assessment can then be seen by an occupational therapist.
Blue Badges – there are currently 21,690 in the borough – can be issued to an organisation that transports disabled people who, of they had applied on an individual basis, would have qualified in their own right.
But taxi firms are not eligible. There are a total of 126 dedicated disabled parking spaces in Wigan and Leigh.
The aim is to help disabled people with severe mobility problems have the opportunity to access goods and services and at a time that is convenient to them, by allowing them to utilise parking facilities close to their destination.
It is open to eligible disabled people irrespective of whether they are travelling as a driver or as a passenger.
If you are a blue badge holder you can park for free in the on-street pay and display bays
Parking on surface car parks is not free but on purchase of the relevant tariff there will be a concession of two hours additional free parking multi-storey car parks are not free.
When vehicles are parked in a dedicated disabled parking space a valid blue disabled badge must be displayed at all times.
The permit is for any eligible disabled person irrespective of whether you are travelling as a driver, or as a passenger.
It allows them to park free in some pay and display car parks and on single and double yellow lines in most streets for up to three hours.
Badges must be renewed every three years and the council don’t send out reminders.
Business manager at the council Lynne Davison said: “The blue badge scheme is designed to help people who have severe mobility issues access facilities and services. In future, those people applying for a new blue badge, or renewing an old one, will have to go through a new process.
“This will involve a visit to Wigan or Leigh Life Centres to make a payment using our chip and PIN system, having their photograph taken and their evidence checked. Some applicants may have to be seen by an occupational therapist at a later date.
“The changes are designed to reduce waiting times and improve customers satisfaction.
“The new system will also prevent against abuse of the system and ensure only those who have genuine mobility issue are granted a blue badge.
“We have worked hard to inform people about the changes.”
Opposition leader Councillor Gary Wilkes (Wigan Independents Network) is supporting the new changes.
He said: “We hope the new Blue Badge Service will deliver a more efficient way to deal with disabled parking permits in Wigan and Leigh. What we need now is the Council to introduce new parking rules for all motorists.
“We would like to see Wigan and Leigh town centres benefit from a scheme where the first hour is free to all motorists, this will help people to get in and out of our towns more effectively.”