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Councils using new powers to seize blue badges

The Local Government Association has said that Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Plymouth Council and Hull City Council recently secured their first prosecutions against fraudsters. Manchester City Council has a 100% conviction rate with more than 500 prosecutions in the past five years.

It is shocking how low some people are stooping in order to con a few hours of free parking, including using a dead relative's blue badge or leaving a disabled parent trapped in their home.

Councils are determined to do everything in their power to protect the quality of life for our disabled and vulnerable residents.

– Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board

Councils are also using new powers to seize and confiscate badges suspected of being used illegally and some have set up specific enforcement teams to tackle blue badge fraud.

Blue badge fraud prosecutions 'double' in three years

The number of prosecutions for Blue badge fraud have doubled in three years, with professional people such as lawyers and architects among the offenders.

Unscrupulous fraudsters have been caught using a dead relative's pass or leaving a disabled parent stuck at home in order to park for free to go shopping or travel to work, said the Local Government Association (LGA) .

Blue badge fraud has doubled. Credit: PA

There were 686 successful council prosecutions in 2013 - up from 330 in 2010 as councils cracked down on offenders.

More than two million disabled people use blue badges for free parking in pay-and-display bays and parking for up to three hours on yellow lines through the nationwide scheme. In London, badge-holders are exempt from the congestion charge.

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Awkwardness around disability 'the way of the world'

Awkwardness around disability is "just the way of the world" sometimes and is not necessarily "borne of ignorance", a leading campaigner told Good Morning Britain.

Alex Brooker explained: "I don't think that awkwardness around disability, necessarily, is borne out of ignorance. I think actually it is the opposite. I think sometimes you are awkward because you want make someone feel comfortable."

66% of Brits 'uncomfortable' talking to disabled people

Over half of the British public admitted to feeling awkward or uncomfortable talking to a disabled person because they are worried they may say something offensive by mistake, a survey has found.

Disability charity Scope, who are behind the survey, revealed young people were more likely to feel awkward around the disabled.

Prosthetic leg
Almost half of Brits do not know anyone disabled, the Scope survey suggests. Credit: PA Wire

One fifth of 18-34 year olds went so far as to admit they had avoided to talking to a disabled person because they were unsure how to communicate with them.

Nearly half of the British public (43%) said they do not personally know anyone who is disabled.

However, 33% said getting to know someone in a wheelchair or an amputee would make them feel more confident when meeting a disabled person.

Disabled access: clubs 'hampered' by age of stadiums

Football clubs have responded to calls for better disabled access by stressing the difficulty of improving "historic" stadiums.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said that in many clubs the level of support and space for disabled people was breaking the law.

But Chelsea Football Club said "like many other clubs with older grounds we are hampered with the age and layout of Stamford Bridge", adding that they were consulting architects on possible improvements.

Chelsea's Stamford bridge
Chelsea's Stamford bridge holds only 47% of the number of wheelchair space required. Credit: PA

Fulham, another club to fall short of the levels required, said they accommodate "as many wheelchair users as possible within the confines of an historic stadium", and that a proposed redevelopment would help improve the situation.

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Lack of disabled access at stadiums 'illegal'

The level of access for disabled people in may football stadiums is illegal, the Minister of State for Disabled People has said.

Mike Penning has called for a "complete overhaul of grounds and of how disabled fans are supported".

Last month it was revealed that only three premier league stadiums provide the number of wheelchair spaces required.

'Woeful' access for disabled people at football stadiums

There is a "woeful" lack of appropriate support and space for disabled spectators at many football stadiums across the country, the Minister of State for Disabled People has said.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning
Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium has only 24% of the number of wheelchair spaces required, the lowest out of any Premier League club. Credit: ITN

Mike Penning has written to every professional club in the country to remind them of their legal obligations.

Football clubs are required by law to provide adequate room and adjustments for disabled fans.

Paralympic champion: 'We need to educate people'

More needs to be done if barriers are to be completely broken for disabled people living in Britain, according to a Paralympics winner.

Swimmer Sascha Kindred, six-time Paralympic champion explained:

I experienced quite a lot of name calling back in school, but I always had my twin brother there to support me so it seemed easier to deal with.

I definitely believe attitudes have changed since then as when I go back to schools now to speak about my experiences as a disabled athlete, the children are genuinely interested and I know a lot of other kids with disabilities have increased opportunities and facilities compared to my time at school.

I still think we need to educate people further though as this will continue to increase awareness of the challenges people with a disability face.

– Six-time Paralympic champion Sascha Kindred

'49%' of disabled feel ignored by potential employer

Almost half of the disabled people who took part in a survey on changing attitudes towards disability said they had faced discrimination while out shopping.

According to Scope's Disability in Britain: Then and Now:

  • Half of disabled people (49%) report having experienced discrimination in shops.
  • Some 31% report such behaviour when attending leisure activities, such as cinemas and theatres.
  • However, this was an improvement on the previous 20 years. In 1994, 85% of disabled people looking for work felt employers were reluctant to hire them because of their impairment.
  • Another 34% of disabled people had been turned away from or refused a service in a public place

Read: Public attitudes towards disability lagging behind

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