Father slams two month wait for new Blue Badge

THE father of a disabled boy has slammed the county council after being told he must wait two months before he gets a new blue badge.

Mark Berkin, 46, of Beech Hill, Letchworth GC, is threatening to send any parking fines he gets to Herts County Council (HCC) in protest at the wait in getting his concessionary blue badge parking permit.

Lorry driver Mr Berkin has had a blue badge for over 15 years to allow him to take his son Thomas, 16, who has cerebral palsy, on trips to the town centre and on holidays.

Parking in the wider disabled bays is essential for Mr Berkin to get Thomas in and out of their vehicle in his wheelchair.

And with no blue badge in sight, and despite his protest to the county council, Mr Berkin and his family are still determined to drive on holiday to Weymouth on Monday.

“I was given no warning when I applied by post a month before my blue badge ran out on August 1. I had always applied a month in advance,” said Mr Berkin.

“When nothing turned up I phoned the office in Stevenage that handles blue badge applications and they said there would be a two-month wait. I couldn’t believe it.

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“But we are going on holiday next Monday, blue badge or not, and if I get a parking ticket then it will be sent to the county council to pay.”

This week HCC blamed the problems of issuing new blue badges on a new computer system and an unprecedented increase in the number of applications.

“In Hertfordshire there are 72,000 badge holders and we receive around 700 new applications and renewals a week. It is currently taking around eight weeks to issue a blue badge from the time of application,” said a HCC statement.

“The timescales involved are longer than we would like and we are doing our utmost to speed up the process.

“With an aging population the trend is unlikely to be reversed, but we will continue to work hard to ensure that applications are processed as quickly as possible.

“We do inform people of the timescales involved and encourage renewal applications to be submitted at least eight weeks before the renewal is due.”