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Sussex cancer patient's car towed in Spain despite blue badge
12:40pm Friday 19th October 2012 in News
By Eloise Horsfield
A cancer patient is warning blue badge owners after his car was towed away in Spain because police did not recognise the new design.
Gerald Crest, from Woodmancote near Henfield, has difficulty walking and is in constant pain.
His blue badge, issued by West Sussex County Council, allows him to park in disabled spots in Spain, where he spends half the year with wife Sharon.
But last week, the 68-year-old’s car was towed away from a disabled bay in Estepona, on the Costa del Sol, by local police.
“We went for a coffee, came back and there was no car,” said Mr Crest, 68, who used to work in marketing.
“We had to get a taxi to the car park and pay €69.50 (£56.50) to get it back.
“At the police station they said the blue badge wasn’t valid in Spain.”
Mr Crest says he suspects the problem was the new blue badge design, which was introduced in January to help address fraud.
Hologram “The old one has a big blue box with a wheelchair symbol on it but the new one has a hologram instead.
“While the Spanish police later agreed the blue badge was valid, following calls from the British consulate and Estepona’s foreigners’ department, Mr Crest has had no luck in getting his €69.50 back despite visiting the police station three times and hand-delivering a letter to Estepona’s mayor.
“We’ve been told it could take months,” said Mrs Crest, 64.
“Imagine it had happened to somebody on their own, in a wheelchair.
“You just can’t have that type of insecurity for the disabled. It is frightening.”
Mr Crest says he now always displays the old badge on the dashboard along with the new one to avoid confusion.
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said this was the first problem arising from the new blue badge design she had heard of.
“The Department for Transport introduced the new design in January 2012.
“The blue badge is recognised throughout the European Union although the concessions provided in other EU countries may not be the same as in the UK. All badge holders are advised to check before travelling.”
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