I KNOW that the process for issuing Blue Badges has had to be tightened recently in light of the numbers abusing the system, but surely legitimate applicants should not be subjected to the delays and frustrations we have just experienced in renewing my frail 91-year-old mother’s badge which expired on 31 March.
We sent the new expanded form, plus an authenticated copy of the birth certificate, proof of address and cheque for £20 in January. Edinburgh City Council had done nothing with the form by early March despite telling us the delays were with the SMART (mobility assessment) centre at Astley Ainslie.
With several time-consuming phone calls I got the form sent to the SMART centre on 13 March and the form was assessed, approved and sent back to the council the following day.
Three weeks later we had still not received the badge, though I was told it had been posted out to us. Because of the delays, the validity of expired badges has been extended by three months but only in Edinburgh. The few times my mother (who uses a wheelchair) is out is usually when I bring her through to visit me in Glasgow. This weekend we are going to St Andrews, her first trip away for six months, without a valid Blue Badge.
We are now being charged for a system which is so cumbersome and inefficient that it is leaving genuine applicants such as my mother with no valid badge at a time when they really need one. The council urgently needs to review where the delays are and do better.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener at Edinburgh City Council, said: “Due to the new, necessarily more stringent, administration of the Blue Badge Scheme, a number of applicants have to be assessed when this did not previously happen.
“As a result there have been some delays in processing blue badge applications and renewals and we are working with the NHS to improve on this. A dispensation of three months is given to those who are waiting for a badge renewal so that they can still use their expired badge in the interim. This dispensation is valid throughout the city of Edinburgh and we appreciate other local authorities may not choose to grant this. In this case the blue badge expired on 31 March, 2013, and a new badge has been sent out. She should receive it shortly if she has not already done so. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused while she has been waiting for this.”
l If you have a consumer issue that you would like tackling, contact Jane Bradley on 0131 620 8432 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.