Changes to the disabled parking badge scheme were approved by East Sussex County Council yesterday, November 22.
From next year, January 2012, there will be a £10 charge for a Blue Car Badge which will be valid for a three-year period. This is an increase from £2, which has remained unchanged since 1983.
The charge will cover the cost of the badge, which will now be produced and distributed by a single national central point, following Government changes.
Both the badge and the time-indicator which comes with it, will be more robust, made of plastic and in a wallet to help with wear and tear.
Councils will still process all applications but will no longer produce the badges.
Another major change is that from April 2012 doctors will no longer carry out the Blue Badge assessments in England. Instead these will be completed by the Council’s therapy staff.
Mobility clinics will be run across East Sussex, including rural areas, in places like day centres, libraries, and council buildings.
The assessment process will help to decide if people meet the national eligibility criteria to quality for a Blue Badge.
The £10 charge will be refunded if someone is not successful in their application.
A press release from the county council said all the measures were being introduced to improve the system and help prevent fraud.
There will be a more sophisticated badge design, a central database, a numbering scheme and an online eligibility tracker and application form.
Cllr Bill Bentley, the Lead Member for Adult Social Care, said: “It is essential that people who need a Blue Badge get one and these new arrangements will help cut down on fraudulent misuse.
“It means that people who get a Blue Badge must use it properly, keep to the time limits allowed to park and not pass it onto other people. And although the charge for the Badge has gone up, this is the first price increase for almost 30 years”.
A consultation on the changes was conducted by Adult Social Care. It ran for 10 weeks and 655 people took part. The press release said comments received showed more people were positive about the fee increase, than were negative, including comments that the charge was fair or reasonable.