It has come to my attention there is a significant backlog in the processing of blue badge applications for disabled drivers. As of July 17th there are 6,793 applications waiting to be processed, including renewals. Transport NI have indicated that applicants can expect to wait six to eight weeks for a response to their application.
Blue badges are a great benefit to disabled drivers, and lengthy delays will cause anxiety and frustration to applicants. I’ve been asked to look into this and after talking with the Blue Badge unit, was surprised to learn of the extent of the backlog. I understand that staffing issues have contributed to the delay, another indication of how budget cuts are impacting on frontline services.
Transport NI have confirmed that traffic wardens will turn a blind eye to existing blue badge holders if their badge expired after 1st April. Badge holders need to be aware this doesn’t apply to private car parks in the likes of shopping centres, hospitals etc, and they should check with local parking attendants. This is welcome news, but of no use to new applicants who don’t have a badge and are waiting to find out if they will be approved.
I am calling on DRD to ensure that any staffing shortages are addressed to ensure that we get back to the usual 20 day turnaround time on blue badges. This is yet another example of how Tory driven ideological cuts are impacting on the lives of the most vulnerable in society. Disabled people shouldn’t expect to face such unreasonable delays on an ongoing basis.