Blue Badge battle ahead for Haverhill

Blue Badge ANL-140528-145731001
Blue Badge ANL-140528-145731001

Organisers of 3 Counties Transport which runs community transport in Haverhill and the surrounding area are gearing up for a battle over changes to the Blue Badge scheme.

Suffolk Community Transport, the umbrella group, is concerned that some of its members have been refused Blue Badge parking permits under Government eligibility rules.

The Haverhill group, which took over community transport from Suffolk County Council in September as part of the county’s divestment process, helps 257 dial-a-ride passengers and a further 200 people using the community car scheme.

For many elderly and disabled people the minibuses are a lifeline providing social contact on shopping trips and medical appointments.

Lyn Davis, transport manager for 3 Counties Transport, is planning to lobby West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock to support their concerns.

Haverhill’s Blue Badge is not up for renewal until the end of the year but other groups have already encountered problems and are lobbying Westminster.

Mrs Davis said: “A lot of people don’t have a blue badge and don’t have their own transport. Surely the Blue Badge is a transport thing. We need a solution to this but I don’t know what it is.

“This transport is a lifeline to elderly and lonely people. There is a lot of rural isolation and sometimes this is their only contact.”

The Government eligibility criteria state there needs to be a caring element to qualify for an organisational badge but adds that operators could use an individual’s badge when that person is a passenger.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said they had to work within Government guidelines but buses could use an individual’s badge to park.