DISABLED people are being let down by changes to the blue badge system, claims a frustrated driver.
But he says a change in the way blue badges are issued, which led to a delay, has left him feeling exasperated with Sunderland City Council and concerned for other disabled drivers.
However, council bosses say the new system was introduced by the Government for all local authorities and badges are distributed centrally, which takes longer. Mr Halkier, 51, said: “I used to be able to hand my photo over the counter and they would give you your badge there and then. But now you have to ring a number which takes hours to answer and they take payment straight away.
“When I spoke to them they said it would take up to 15 days but now it has been three weeks.
“The same thing happened when I got my last badge, which was late, and it actually meant I was without one all together as my old one had run out.
“The system needs to be a lot better.
“If they take the money straight away then I think they should give you the badge straight away.”
Councillor Dave Allan, portfolio holder for heath and wellbeing on Sunderland City Council, said: “I’m sorry Mr Halkier has had to wait for his blue badge.
“However because of changes to the blue badge scheme introduced by the Government in January this year for all local authorities, it now takes longer for badges to be issued.
“As part of the new scheme we can no longer issue blue badges over the counter.
“They are produced and distributed centrally by the Government’s Blue Badge Improvement Service, and while we always aim to complete our part of the process as quickly as possible, overall it can take up to 15 days.”
For more information on blue badges, visit www.direct.gov.uk