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Agenda item

Disabled Persons' Parking Places (Scotland) Act 2009 Implementation Update - EPI/10/113

Minutes:

DECLARATION OF INTEREST

 

Councillor Allan declared an interest in the subject matter of the following article by virtue of being a blue badge holder. Councillor Allan did not consider it necessary to withdraw from the meeting.

 

 

 

With reference to article 17 of the minute of the meeting of the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee of 1 September, 2009, the Committee had before it a report by the Director of Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure which provided an update on the implementation of the Disabled Persons Parking Places (Scotland) Act 2009, in particular tackling fraud or abuse in relation to the Blue Badge Scheme, streamlining the application process and the enforcement of off-street Disabled Person’s Parking Places.

 

Firstly, in relation to disabled persons parking places and traffic orders, the report reminded members that one of the principle concerns about the legislation related to the requirement for traffic orders to be processed for a Disabled Persons’ Parking Place;  this had significant cost and resource implications for the Council.  Through the Society of Chief Officers for Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS), local authorities were working with the Scottish Government and the Department for Transport with respect to a solution that would not involve a traffic order or the lengthy consultation process, similar to Bus Stop Clearways.  At the time of previously reporting to Committee, there was an expectation that the matter would have been resolved swiftly, however the Department for Transport had advised SCOTS that the issue of an updated Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions had been delayed.  Therefore a future report would be submitted when this matter was resolved.  Until that time any new spaces would be implemented through the specified traffic order process.  In addition at present the physical design on the new spaces was expected to comprise a yellow box with the word ‘Disabled’ and a wheelchair logo.

 

Secondly, regarding fraud/abuse of the Blue Badge Scheme and the Disabled Persons Parking Places, it was advised that the implementation of the new legislation provided an opportunity to develop the Council’s policy with regards to detection and prosecution of fraud and abuse.  It was highlighted that the new legislation might actually make abuse and fraud more attractive as spaces that were previously personalised would be open to anyone who displays a badge.  At present there were currently around 10-20 registered complaints per year with respect to Blue Badge fraud or abuse and 70 names on an abuse register.  At present training was provided to the Council’s City Wardens in this respect, however they had a wide range of responsibilities and were limited in the capacity of their resources to undertake significant levels of enforcement.  Therefore it was difficult for them to systematically detect any fraud or abuse.  It was therefore proposed to develop a suitable policy, recognising the new legislation, in conjunction with key stakeholders who would be integral in effectively tackling fraud or abuse with a view to adapting it to be implemented in the City. A further report would be submitted on the proposed policy and what it would mean in terms of resourcing.

 

A further requirement of the Act was to have started procedures for traffic orders for off-street spaces by October 2010.  Given the obvious resource challenges with regards to identifying and then contacting all landowners of such spaces, it was proposed to advertise, via public notice, asking interested land owners to contact the Council with respect to the formalisation of their blue badge parking spaces.  It was further proposed to liaise with representatives of Blue Badge holders, particularly the Disability Advisory Group, to identify any establishments or particular locations where they felt the Council should contact the relevant person or entity directly with a view to making them aware of the opportunity for the blue badge spaces to be made enforceable.  As agreement with landowners was reached, such places would form part of a future list for a draft traffic order.

 

With regard to the new application process, charges and administrative matters for the implementation of the Act, it was advised that once a decision had been made upon the final design of the spaces, new or renewal applications which were approved for a badge and space would be implemented where financial resources allowed.  Existing places that are of the currently personalised type would be updated upon renewal (currently every 3 years).

 

Finally, it was advised that officers expected that with the implementation of the legislation there would be pockets of streets where the potential demand from blue badge holders will affect the availability of parking for other residents. This was further complicated by the need to consider whether a blue badge holder with a driveway or indeed a person who had no car should be eligible.  Further work to develop a robust policy on these issues was required. As such, it would be intended that representatives of the Disability Advisory Group would be offered the opportunity to participate in such a review and this would be reported along with other outstanding after the summer recess.   As any policy would influence the content of any traffic orders to introduce the spaces a full list of proposed new places would be brought back to members after the summer recess and in time to meet the deadlines set within the 2009 Act.

 

The Committee resolved:-

(i)         to request officers to develop and consult on a policy and process with respect to detection and prosecution of fraud and abuse of the Blue Badge Scheme, and report back to the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee with views of stakeholders and the potential resource implications of this and the implementation of the new legislation;

(ii)        to request officers to advertise, via public notice, requests for private land owners to notify the Council that they wished to create statutory Disabled Persons’ Parking Places within their establishments or off-street parking areas;

(iii)       to request officers to directly contact persons or entities suggested by representatives of Blue Badge holders, particularly the Disability Advisory Group, with regards to off-street parking spaces in relation to resolution (ii) detailed above; 

(iv)       to note the progress to date on streamlining the application process and implementation of the increased charges for Blue Badges;

(v)        to request officers to develop a policy with respect to the proportion of kerbside parking for the Disabled Persons’ Parking Places, in consultation with the Disability Advisory Group, and to report back to the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee with a formal proposal; 

(vi)       to request officers to report back to the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Committee, following the summer recess, with an update on the ongoing discussions with regards to the standardisation of the design of the places and implementation of a traffic order for on and off-street places; and

(vii)      to request officers to advise the Committee, by email, of how long an individuals name would remain on the abuse register.

- COUNCILLOR DEAN, Convener.

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