Published: 08:40, 17 April 2019
| Updated: 08:41, 17 April 2019
Don't blame us, said KCC, after criticism that a failure to send out reminders to Blue Badge holders about the need to renew their permit was catching out some disabled motorists.
Traditionally, Blue Badge holders received a reminder about three months before their permit was due to expire. The permits last for three years.
The long notice was necessary because it could take up to eight weeks to process an application.
Applications to renew were not accepted more than three months before the expiry date, so effectively, drivers had a one-month window to submit their renewal request with all the necessary paperwork, which included a passport photo, driver's licence, proof of identity, proof of address and proof of disability.
However, recently drivers have stopped receiving reminders. Even those that have realised and made an application before time have often not made it soon enough for the new permit to be issued before the expiry of the old, resulting in the risk of a fine if they continued to use a disabled bay.
There has been criticism from permit-holders, and from MP Helen Grant, but a KCC spokesman explained: "Historically, the issuing of blue badges and all accompanying letters, reminders and other communications were processed through the Department for Transport’s (DFT) Blue Badge Improvement Service (BBIS), a centralised system used by all local authorities.
“In February this year, the DFT launched a new Blue Badge Digital Service which returns control of case management of blue badge applications to local authorities.
“As a result, KCC is temporarily unable to send out reminders for blue badges that are soon to expire while it implements its new case management system.
“The council will begin issuing reminders once more in the next few months. In the interim, blue badge holders are advised to check the renewal date which is clearly marked on the front of their documents.”
The good news is that ultimately the new system should make the application process more efficient. Drivers will be able to submit all the necessary "paperwork" online, saving time in the administration process. They will also receive automatic updates on how their application is processing.
KCC issues between 27,000 and 30,000 Blue Badges every year, which has previously been quite an administrative burden.
For further information on the changes, visit https://tinyurl.com/badgeblue