New rules on Blue Badges in Dorset Council car parks set to come in

Under new proposals, Blue Badge holders will have to pay when visiting Dorset Council owned car parks in Corfe Castle and Wareham.

The changes don’t affect car parks in Swanage which are managed by Swanage Town Council. Neither do they affect the Blue Badge holder rules for on-street parking, which are set by the Department for Transport.

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Under the new Dorset Council rules, all Blue Badge holders will be entitled to one hour additional parking when purchasing a valid pay and display ticket.

Cars parked on Wareham Quay

The Blue Badge changes will apply to the Wareham Quay car park

Severe mobility issues

Those who face severe mobility issues will be able to apply for a new Restricted Mobility Parking Permit which will entitle them to three hours free parking in all Dorset Council car parks across the county.

Currently all Blue Badge holders get three hours free parking in Dorset Council owned car parks in Purbeck, while in the Swanage Town Council owned car parks there are no payment concessions.

Of course, all those who live in Swanage and surrounding areas can apply for a residents’ permit which offers free or reduced parking.

Blue badge holder sign in Swanage car park

Swanage Town Council car parks aren’t affected by the changes, although in Swanage no parking fee concessions are offered to Blue Badge holders

Come into effect from April 2022

The new proposals were approved at the Dorset Council’s place and resources overview committee on Thursday 10th February 2022 and if fully ratified, are expected to come into effect from April 2022.

The intention of the change is to align old policies and bring in one consistent policy across all Dorset Council car parks. Currently the rules differ across the county based on old district council boundaries.

Consultation and survey

The proposals follow discussions with a range of Blue Badge holders and their carers as well as a survey.

The survey ran for six weeks and 1,513 responses were received, 71 percent of them from Blue Badge holders.

Respondents were asked to rank four options in preference, as well as submit their own ideas for consideration.

The highest-ranking option was for three hours of free parking with 35 percent, followed by one hours free parking when a pay and display ticket is purchased (25 percent). Free parking for higher exemption Blue Badge holders was also a popular option (20 percent).

“We listened to what they said”

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment has been leading on the changes. He said:

“It was nice to see the public participating. We listened to what they said and I think the paper in front of you sums up the amount of hard work that has gone into putting this together.”

West Street car park in Corfe Castle

At the West Street car park in Corfe Castle, Blue Badge holders won’t automatically get three hours free parking but will have to apply for a Restricted Mobility Parking Permit

Restricted Mobility Parking Permit

Blue Badge holders who receive specified allowances will be entitled to apply for a Restricted Mobility Parking Permit from Dorset Council. This will give them free parking for up to three hours.

Applicants must have a Blue Badge and be in receipt of one of the following:

  • Higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • 10 points or more on the mobility component of Personal Independence
  • Payment (PIP)
  • Higher rate mobility component of Child Disability Payment
  • War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

Or evidence that the vehicle registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name is tax exempt.

In the meeting, Dorset Council’s strategic parking policy officer, Elizabeth Murray said that anyone who didn’t receive these allowances but had severely restricted mobility could apply and their case would be assessed.

Two tier system

As part of the consultation, Wareham Town Council said:

“By having two concessions it is unfair and discriminatory. There is already a strict application process for obtaining a blue badge and all holders should be able to park without the need to apply for a further parking permit.”

Howards lane car park in Wareham

Howards Lane car park in Wareham where the new rules are expected to apply from April 2022

“We believe it is the fairest way

Taking up this point, councillor Toni Coombs asked whether it was fair that some Blue Badge holders got three hours free parking while others, also with a Blue Badge, had to pay and only got one additional free hour.

Dorset Council officer Elizabeth Murray said:

“We want to recognise that all Blue Badge holders do have some level of mobility issue and do need some extra support, so we felt, through the discussion groups, this was the best way to do it.

“So if you have the Blue Badge for mobility issues or for any other issue you will get an extra hour of parking, because it may take you longer to get a child in the car or something like that.

“But those who are in real need and don’t have the ability to walk any distance or carry things, then this will meet their needs and we believe it is the fairest way.

Not based on financial benefit

Councillor Les Fry questioned whether those on low incomes may feel it unfair that they aren’t being offered free parking.

Elizabeth Murray replied:

“This policy is not based on giving a financial benefit. It really is about recognising that people with Blue Badges may take longer to do the things that they need to do.”

The committee, chaired by councillor Carole Jones, voted unanimously to support the proposals and they will now be passed to Dorset Council’s cabinet and the full council for ratification.

If approved the changes will come into effect in April 2022, alongside the changes to the cost of car parking in Dorset Council car parks. The exact date has yet to be announced.

Further information

Dorset Council’s proposed Blue Badge car park charging policy report is available to read on its website

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