A disabled dad from Wearside has hit out at the way drivers are now allocated blue badges, saying the new system is “open to abuse”.
Sean Robinson, who suffers from Osgood-Schlatter disease, an inflammation of the area just below the knee, had used one of the special permits for a number of years before he was reassessed last December.
The 49-year-old was due to have his badge renewed and called Sunderland City Council to undergo the assessment but to his surprise was refused a badge.
An appeal he lodged has since been turned down.
The council has responded to say that staff are only following national guidelines set by the Department
“I don’t mind being assessed at all, it’s just the way that they do it,” said Mr Robinson, of Town End Farm.
“I phoned up to renew and they asked me five questions and after that I was told I didn’t fit the criteria to get a badge.
“I felt that the questions were very ambiguous such as “can you walk?”
“I can walk but only a short distance. For example if I go to Asda shopping it’s a lot easier if I can park a few yards from the entrance rather than hundreds away.”
Mr Robinson, who is qualified motor mechanic, welder, fitter and turner and electrician, also claims that when he asked for reasons why he was refused the badge he was told “you don’t need to know”.
He is now calling on the Government to change the way assessments for badges are carried out.
“The whole thing is wide open to abuse,” said Mr Robinson, who is married to Donna, 46, and dad to Dominic, 19, and Matthew, 17.
“You see people in the papers every day who give others who are on benefits a bad name and it boils my blood.
“It’s very unfair because of the questions and I think you’ll see a lot more people turning up and pretending they need things like zimmer frames when they don’t.
“I’m in pain 24/7, whether I’m walking or sitting and it makes my life a lot more difficult that I can’t have a blue badge.”
Portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services, Councillor Graeme Miller: “Like all local authorities, Sunderland City Council issues Blue Car Badges in accordance with national guidance set by the Department of Transport.
“This includes following the criteria for awarding the badges, with an appeals process open to all those who might disagree with the judgement on individual cases.
“People who do not meet the qualifying criteria will be supported with information and advice about other available services, that may help them in the management of their mobility issues.”