Disabled people have been waiting so long to get a dedicated parking bay in Oldham they may be ‘dead or no longer be able to drive’, according to a councillor.
Coun Howard Sykes, who leads the Liberal Democrat opposition group, says that some people in the borough have had to wait ‘almost three years’ for a parking space.
He raised the issue with the council on behalf of one of his constituents in Shaw and said he found the answers ‘disturbing’.
Coun Sykes said that 80 people are currently waiting for an assessment to determine whether they are eligible for a parking space.
“These are all people who hold a Blue Badge and have severe disabilities,” he added.
“They need a disabled parking bay to access a vehicle that is parked near their home to get out and about.
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“It is tragic that some have had to wait almost three years – forcing increased isolation, and this waiting list is steadily growing.
“It is a scandal that some of these people waiting will either be dead or no longer able to drive by the time their application is dealt with. It is just not good enough and they deserve better.”
Coun Sykes also says there has been no money allocated to provide disabled parking bays since the 2018-19 financial year, meaning the backlog will only get worse.
He added he would continue to advocate for the ‘forgotten and vulnerable citizens’ and urge the town hall to invest in creating the spaces.
Disabled parking bays require the area designated as the bay to be painted onto the highway and then a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to be issued.
Data from the Department for Transport shows that 9,613 Blue Badges were held last year in Oldham.
Councillor Barbara Brownridge, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said the council receives a ‘large number of requests’ for disabled parking spaces and each one is ‘looked into’.
“Making sure disabled residents can access their homes is important to us,” she added.
“When considering an application we have to take into account a number of issues – not just financial implications – and these can take time. Also over the last 11 months officers have also been deployed on other duties.
“Things we have to look into include making sure some streets are not saturated with bays, which would mean other residents could not park.
“This is especially the case now as our Blue Badge policy has been recently revised to include additional categories of disability.
“In July last year we sent an update letter to 120 people who had applied for a bay. We only received responses from 60 people. Since then we have received another 20 new applications, and this rises weekly.
“I can also reassure that we continue to work hard to identify further appropriate funding.”
People with learning disabilities, mental health conditions and other hidden impairments are now able to apply for a Blue Badge after the scheme was updated in August 2019.
The council website states that ‘due to limited financial resources it is only possible for applications to be considered annually should funding be available’.
“Applicants must therefore be aware that there is likely to be a delay in progressing their application,” it adds.
“This legal process is also subject to a public advertisement period when objections can be submitted.”