The blue badge disabled parking scheme in England is undergoing its biggest shake-up since it was introduced in 1970, with the changes set to be introduced from 30 August 2019. The result is expected to increase the number, there are currently around 2.35 million, of those entitled to a blue badge by around 30% which will also increase the demand for dedicated parking spaces (see below for current UK guidelines). Scotland and Wales have already implemented similar rules to include some mental impairments, but the criteria are yet to be altered in Northern Ireland. The biggest change is that from 30 August, people with hidden disabilities will be also be granted access to the scheme. The idea is that people with less obvious health conditions, such as autism, will have the same right to park in disabled bays as those with physical disabilities. While the catch-all phrase, “hidden disabilities” encompasses many health issues, some of the most common are: ADHD Amnesia Anxiety Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Asperger’s Syndrome Crohn’s Disease Complex mental health disorders Epilepsy Huntington’s Disease Irritable Bowel Diseases Lupus ME Rheumatoid arthritis Ulcerative Colitis The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who: cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism); cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress; have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking). The change follows a consultation that found many people with mental health problems struggle with the same travel issues as those with physical disabilities. Many golf clubs are likely to see increased demand for further disabled parking spaces and whilst there have yet to be any changes to the current guidelines it may be prudent to ensure your club has at least the minimum according to the guidelines below. The disabled parking provisions for England and Northern Ireland recommend that where the car park is in excess of 50 spaces 4% should be reserved specifically for people with disabilities. In smaller car parks at least one space should be provided. The Scottish Government has different criteria which are that you must provide a minimum of at least 1 disabled car parking space per 20 parking spaces. If you have less than 20 parking spaces, you must provide 1 disabled parking space. Where physically possible allocate 4-6% of your available parking spaces for disabled people. In Wales, the guidelines are one space for every disabled employee and 6% of the total spaces for disabled visitors.
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