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Disabled man's anger at blue badge renewal delay
A disabled holidaymaker says he may not be able to get the assistance he needs at an airport because of delays in his application for a renewal of his blue badge.
Michael Gilbert said he has waited weeks for his blue badge to be renewed by East Sussex County Council and says he will now have to fly to Malaga without one.
He is now worried airport staff will not allow him to use the assistance for disabled passengers without his official documents.
The 66-year-old, from Capel Avenue, Peacehaven, is among hundreds of disabled motorists across the county waiting up to two months for their blue badges to be issued.
East Sussex County Council said it is currently processing between 300 and 350 applications a week and the general processing timescale of eight weeks was reducing.
Mr Gilbert has been a blue badge holder for six years and his current permit expired on September 30.
He immediately reapplied for a new permit when prompted by a letter from East Sussex County Council.
His application was held up when three weeks after having his ID approved by the practice manager at his local doctors’ surgery as he had done in the past, East Sussex County Council said this was not acceptable.
In the end, he had to get a signature from his local pharmacist.
Mr Gilbert, who suffers from lung disease COPD, sciatica and arthritis, said his weekly shopping trips and visits to the doctors had become much more difficult without his blue badge.
He will now have his medical assessment on October 30 – a month after his permit expired.
Mr Gilbert said he would be eligible for a blue badge without assessment if he applied for the higher level of disability allowance, but chooses not to as he does not wish to claim more money from the state.
He said: “It’s absolutely diabolical. I’m going to have to bluff my way at the airport and hope for the best.
“Sometimes at Gatwick they might let you use the service without showing your blue badge but in Malaga they are very strict about it.
“The walk to the terminal at Gatwick is very long and there is no way I could walk it myself.
“I’m going on holiday and straight away I will have a problem before I even get there.
“I noticed that in Essex they have done an amnesty and rescinded any parking tickets while they sort out their delays and I can’t see why they can’t do that here.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said the authority was currently dealing with applications expiring at the end of October and new permits will be issued before they expire.
He added: “For people who have submitted applications in August or September, and have not got their badge, it is because they did not send in the correct documentation, which means it has to be returned with a request for the correct documents.”
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