Blue Badge holders access to Mill Road

Could an exemption apply?

In our Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure blogpost we raised the question of potential exemptions for Blue Badge holders. However, it’s complicated, as A lifeline for blue badge holders on Mill Road bridge? – a report in the Cambridge Independent, by Mike Scialom – reveals.

Blue badges belong to individuals, regardless of whether they are a car drivers or not. They can be used by friends and relatives when giving the blue badge holder a lift etc. So they aren’t tied to a car, but an individual, so not sure how easy access would be given…

blue badge holder Suzanne Morris, quoted in the Cambridge Independent

We had a long and detailed comment, from Margaret, which deserves its own blogpost. Her full comment is published below. If you wish to reply to Margaret you can do so here, in the comments section of our post: Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure.

 I agree that this closure of the bridge to cars causes problems for people with disabilities.

My son has a Blue Badge. The poster who cited the arrangements at Cambridge Station for Blue Badge holders as being a workable arrangement probably hasn’t experienced the appalling bureaucracy and the threats from the Car Parking Company. My son doesn’t drive, and we don’t have a car. His support workers do.

The car parking Company makes you register the vehicle not the Blue Badge. This means that we can’t use the Disabled Bays, because of the appalling time-consuming process you have to go through every time there is a different vehicle being used to transport my son. And it seems, even when you have registered, the system issues you with a fine if you need to park at the station the day you have registered.

Last year we had 18 different support workers, most of whom used their cars to transport my son. You cannot register more than one car with a Blue Badge. This means every time there is a different vehicle you have to go online, take a picture of the badge, upload it to their website, fill in a detailed form. This takes me hours and help from several people. We aren’t all able to do this sort of thing. When my son needed a different car with a different driver, we had to go through this all over again.

What I didn’t realise was that we weren’t registering a second car, we were automatically deregistering the first one as well. The system didn’t tell me this. And you try phoning them up! Each time it was at least a 40-minute wait to get through and then you are given wrong information. The [people] from the parking company who set up this system fail to account for the fact the Badge belongs to the disabled person and not to any vehicle. They don’t care. They care nothing about disability issues.

The two railway companies involved at Cambridge station aren’t bothered either. The car parking company is acting as the agent of the company that runs the Station. The NCP should either have staff going round the car park checking the Blue Badge’s validity or, if they insist on scanning, they should scan the badge itself on entry or exit. Instead they rely on number plate recognition.

After I registered the second car, we then found that I needed to re-register the first one. I had an email saying this had been done and off the driver went with my son. But a few days later he then received a threatening letter from NCP imposing a heavy fine – nearly £100.

It took hours and hours of my time over several weeks to get them to cancel the fine. I asked for an apology but never received one. This system blatantly fails to provide for disabled people’s needs. And I, as the principal family carer, need this sort of problem like I need a hole in the head. So, the outcome is that now we never park at the station. I bet the same problem would apply if a Blue Badge exemption was brought in for crossing Mill Road.

Now we have to use taxis if we need to drive to the station the journey time and the cost has gone up because taxis can’t cross the bridge. Last summer when the bridge was shut, and Mill Road was chaos with the gas main, we hardly went into town at all because buses weren’t running, and taxi journeys were an expensive nightmare. Many drivers refused even to accept the fare when they heard where we lived. We are now back with the very expensive and unnecessarily lengthy taxi journeys. We are not getting on a bus at the moment for safety reasons.

Oh yes, and I think the street where we live will now become a rat run for vehicles needing to turn round before the bridge.

Thanks a million.

Margaret, here, in the comments section of our post: Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure

James Youd, Secretary of Unite the Union Cambridge Community branch, together with Cambridge City Councillor, and former mayor,Gerri Bird have started this petition – Stop Road Closures – Cut Cambridge congestion through action.

This blogpost is not open for comments, but the comments section of our post: Wider footways, barriers and bridge closure remains open.

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