According to research by Agena Group which operates many of Britain’s private car parks, four-wheel drive vehicles are the most frequent abusers of Blue Badge spaces. It argues that only a higher sanction through PCNs (Parking Charge Notices, the private land equivalent of Penalty Charge Notices issued on public land) for SUV infractions will deter such anti-social behaviour.
Blue Badge parking bays are meant to provide ease of access for disabled people and are generally located close to the entrance of shopping centres, hospitals and stations. But increasingly, the bays are being used by able-bodied drivers with no Blue Badge. Drivers of SUVs or 4-wheel-drive cars the worst offenders.
“We’ve assessed the data of all vehicles that have been issued with PCNs for abusing Blue Badge bays and have noticed a worrying trend”, says Paul Dawson, Chief Executive of Agena Group. “SUV drivers are far more likely to abuse Blue Badge bays than any other type of vehicle, disadvantaging people with a legitimate need to use those bays. This selfish behaviour seems to grow with the size of the vehicle, so the size of the deterrent needs to be allowed to grow too.”
The research of PCNs imposed on drivers parked in the bays on private land without a Blue Badge highlights the fact that over 20 per cent of infractions were by LandRover and RangeRover drivers, closely followed by Audi then BMW SUV drivers. Almost 65% of Blue Badge PCNs came from these three brands of SUV, with many of their drivers repeatedly using disabled bays.
The recent study by Agena has shown a 300% increase in PCNs issued for abuse of disabled bays between 2021 and 2022. There has also been a notable increase in the number of these PCNs being paid quickly. The International Parking Community (the IPC), the trade body that represents the private parking industry, believes this proves the deterrent is inadequate.
“The size of the car seems to directly influence the attitude of the driver”, says Will Hurley, the Chief Executive of the International Parking Community. “They seem to care less about the needs of Blue Badge Holders and far more about their own convenience. It makes you wonder whether, for the owners of these very expensive cars, the risk of a parking charge is too low and so the government should consider a higher deterrent for all drivers who behave in such an anti-social way.”
Helen Dolphin MBE, from Dolphin Diversity, who advises Agena Group said “I have been a Blue Badge holder for over 25 years and sadly it seems that abuse of this scheme is only getting worse. It’s great to see organisations such Agena Group and the IPC carrying out research and coming up with solutions to address this difficult issue. Unfortunately, it does not seem that the cost of a PCN is a deterrent particularly in areas where parking charges are not a dissimilar amount and people with large cars do not want to park them in standard size bays. The sad fact is that if disabled people cannot park in Blue Badge bays it can mean not being able to park at all which is why it is so important that this issue is tackled properly.”