BADGES: Disability is not a choice
I am responding to a question asked by Marjorie Bell, of Cramlington, about blue badge holders and free parking, (News Post Leader, September 22).
First of all, I would like to say that I am a blue badge holder.
When I applied for my blue badge in 2014 I paid £20 to Northumberland County Council. This was the fee in force at that time. The badge has to be renewed every three years so I am not sure of the current fee, although I am sure it is not free.
Parking for blue badge holders isn’t always free. The badge holder has to check the rules of the car park.
For example, at tourist spots, such as Glenridding in the Lake District, I paid exactly the same fee for parking as non blue badge holders. This is just one example, but there are others.
As car parking in Northumberland is largely free, neither badge holders nor non-badge holders pay.
I have heard, however, that hospital car park owners are considering charging blue badge holders for parking.
I can only speak of my own experience, but I am sure it is not unlike the experiences of other blue badge holders.
I have mobility difficulties and walk with two sticks.
Forms of public transport aren’t always that easy to use when a person has mobility issues.
Getting on and off buses can be difficult and bus stops can be a considerable distance from where I either get on the bus or alight.
I have experienced having to ‘beg’ for a seat, or the bus pulling away before I have had chance to sit down.
At some bus stops there are no seats and standing for a bus is, at times, agony.
Therefore, the only other option open to me is a taxi, which costs a lot of money.
I need the use of a car to make life easier and less painful.
Should I, therefore, be put to the extra expense for being disabled and having to use my private car more?
Very often I cannot take the cheaper forms of transport for the reasons I have stated above, therefore there are more petrol costs incurred.
I am sure that many disabled people are living on a low income, for example state pension or personal independence payment, with a lot of people in these groups having made a contribution to society by working when they could.
Of course, disabled people still work and contribute to society.
Let us remember those of the armed forces disabled in battle who now need a blue badge.
Being disabled isn’t a choice, it happens for one reason or another.
I would like to finish by saying that until a person becomes disabled, as with everything in life, you don’t know what it’s like to manage daily life, for example, having to visit the shops more frequently to simply buy groceries. I cannot get all my groceries in one or two shopping trips. This, therefore, potentially adds to the cost of petrol and parking.
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