THE blue badge parking scheme will continue to ‘develop’ in order to ‘offer parity in its delivery’, according to Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The authority has defended its record on the applications, after new data showed a ‘shocking disparity’ in the rate of approval for some kinds of disabilities.

An investigation by the BBC Shared Data Unit revealed that of the 5,575 blue badge applications since August 2019 — when government rules on eligibility were reformed to include non-visible disabilities — just 57 per cent of non-visible submissions were accepted, compared to 94 per cent for all applications.

A council spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “This amendment to the law has resulted in a change in how the council processes applications we receive for Blue Badges.

“The assessment for the visible provision remains unchanged, whereas the assessments for the non-visible Blue Badge provision is based on an individual assessment of risk.

“A new member of staff was employed into the Expert Assessor role last year to complete the complex assessment of risk. Following the initial screening and information gathering stage, an individual assessment is carried out on each application to determine whether the applicant is eligible for a Blue Badge. This considers all the elements of each individual case.”

Reacting to the national figures, James Taylor, executive director strategy impact and social change at disability equality charity Scope, said: “This new data shows a shocking disparity between the allocations of Blue Badges to people with invisible and visible impairments. Our Helpline has also heard from disabled people with hidden impairments being denied a Blue Badge, for ‘not qualifying’. 

“This research highlights the urgent need for staff training of the decision makers in the councils, so they can recognize and understand the range of hidden impairment. Councils need also to understand the devastating impact their negative decision can have.” 

However, CWaC insisted that it is ‘taking every opportunity to develop the service and offer parity in its delivery’.

The spokesperson added: “All applications are professionally considered, and the applications that are rejected can appeal that decision. The appeals are considered at a monthly meeting.

“This is a new law change and the council is taking every opportunity to develop the service and offer parity in its delivery.

“The council recognises the importance that residents with visible and non-visible disabilities, striving to ensure those residents who are eligible, receive a Blue Badge so that they can maximise their independence.”