By Cheshire East - 15th December 2011 7:02am
A new blue badge for people with disabilities is being launched in Cheshire East as part of the Government’s reform programme.
The redesigned badge will be available from New Year’s Day and will make it easier for those with severe mobility problems to park close to where they need to go.
It will also enable the Council to crack down on those who may be fraudulently using a badge.
From January 1st, 2012, badges will be much harder to alter, copy or forge and will be made of a combination of PVC and PET, instead of cardboard, and will be more robust.
It follows the Government’s announcement earlier this year to modernise the blue badge scheme, which currently costs the country an estimated £46m per year.
There are 24,000 blue badges in circulation in Cheshire East and approximately 50 are renewed daily. Badges will cost £10, to cover the costs of administration, production and postage. This is the first price increase in almost 30 years.
Councillor David Brown, Cabinet member with responsibility for performance and capacity, said: “This national initiative will help Cheshire East to combat forgeries which can lead to legitimate blue badge holders losing out. The changes will also improve customer service and speed up the time it takes to renew them.
“Residents will still be able to apply directly to Cheshire East Council for a badge, which will be valid for three years.
“Holders will be able to park for free in all Cheshire East car parks and on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours, except where there is a ban on loading or unloading.”
Cheshire East Council is undertaking a full engagement programme with stakeholders and groups affected by these changes.
Madelyn Bridge, Chief Executive for Age UK Cheshire East, said: “The blue badge scheme is essential to anyone with severe mobility problems, keeping them active and engaged in the community for as long as possible. Anything that can be done to reduce fraud and keep the scheme fair for the people who really need it, has to be a good thing.”
For more information on the changes to the blue badge, or to apply for one, visit www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/bluebadge or call Cheshire East Council on 0300 123 5020.
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