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Blue badge blacklog sees Sussex disabled drivers stuck at home
Disabled drivers are being left stranded by a backlog in issuing blue badges.
Changes to the blue badge system were issued in January in a bid to cut down on fraud, however genuinely disabled motorists say they are stuck in their homes.
They say they are unable to get to hospital appointments because of the delays caused by council staff, rather than doctors, assessing motorist’s eligibility for the badges.
One 90-year-old, whose badge expired in August, has been told by East Sussex County Council officials that he has been approved for a new badge but could still have to wait more than two months to get a replacement.
His son-in-law said: “A month before his badge expired we filled in the application form and sent it back to East Sussex County Council. Then we heard nothing.
“The date his old badge expired came and went and we still heard nothing. Eventually I called them to find out what was happening.
“They told me his application had been approved but that there was an eight to ten week delay in getting the badges out. It is unacceptable really.
“He’s 90 years old and needs to get to hospital visits.
“Their excuse is that the Department for Transport changed the rules and regulations but it has caused them a huge amount of problems and they have taken on extra staff and are working overtime.
“But I don’t understand why they can’t show a bit of leniency in the meantime.
“You would think that if they have this huge backlog they could let people keep using their old badges until they get their new ones through no fault of their own.”
A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said it was legally prevented from allowing disabled motorists to continue using their expired badges.
The council said in a statement: “The current waiting time for applications is eight to ten weeks.
“The Blue Badge team is currently handling extremely high volumes of post and calls to the helpline.
“Extra staff have been brought in and existing staff are also working longer hours to respond to applications and voice messages.
“We are working hard to complete the necessary work and will do our utmost to reduce any delays. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and will advise you of any updates through this website.”
In May, both East and West Sussex reported a two month backlog as they adjusted to the new rules.
West Sussex County Council said yesterday (September 5) it had reduced its backlog by sending motorists their renewal letters earlier than usual, and expected to have completely removed its backlog by the second week of October.
Brighton and Hove City Council also said it currently has no backlog.