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TV Presenter Sophie Morgan In ‘Rage At The Injustice’ Of Blue Badge Theft

March 27, 2023

    TV presenter Sophie Morgan was left “in a rage” at the “injustice” of her Blue Badge being stolen from her car.

    The Loose Women star, who uses a wheelchair, said she would have to wait weeks for her car to be fixed and a replacement Blue Badge issued.

    “I literally can’t describe how disabling this is,” she said, adding the inconvenience was “beyond measure”.

    Blue Badges are issued by your local council and are displayed on the car’s dashboard.

    They are proof you are disabled and enable you to get free or longer term parking as well as entitling you to use disabled parking bays which tend to be closer to destinations.

    Sophie was away working in America when her car back in London was broken into, earlier this month. The perpetrators “smashed the window on the passenger side,” she told the BBC’s disability podcast, Access All.

    “I had this rage in me at the injustice, all the frustration, the inconvenience, all of those feelings,” she said.

    The only item taken was her Blue Badge, but the loss of it hugely impacts her life.

    “I can’t drive my car without my badge as I can’t get in or out [of the vehicle] without space to get my wheelchair beside my car,” she said.

    “And without the guarantee of a disabled space, it’s not worth the risk.”

    The incident was reported to her local council but now Sophie must wait for a replacement to be issued.

    According to the Department for Transport, in the year ending March 2022, 1,497 badges were reported as stolen across the UK.

    They can be vulnerable to opportunists with some suggestion they can be re-sold for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

    Some people even buy lockable Blue Badge holders which are attached to the vehicle’s steering wheel to protect them.

    It is why some London councils have started moving towards “Companion Passes” which work alongside Blue Badges, but are digital and negate the threat of theft.

    Haringey Council, in north London, launched its Companion Pass in August 2021 to enable people to park in locations across the borough.

    Between January and June 2021, 528 incidents relating to Blue Badges had been reported. A year later, after the scheme had been introduced, that dropped to 185 for the same time period, a reduction of 65%.

    Hackney Council installed a similar scheme four years ago.

    As well as working in resident parking zones, it also enables holders to travel through low traffic neighbourhoods (LTN). Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras are able to pick-up and verify the vehicles.

    “It’s been really transformational,” Councillor Mete Coban says, the cabinet member for energy, waste and transport, who has offered to speak with other councils to get the scheme up and running.

    But he acknowledges it’s not a complete solution.

    “It has to be the vehicle registered to your home address. So that’s one of the limitations,” he said, acknowledging they can only be linked to one vehicle, unlike the physical Blue Badge which can be used by the holder in any vehicle they are traveling in

    These Companion Passes also only work within the borough they are issued.

    Sophie’s own council, Southwark, does operate a Companion Pass which enables holders to park in any disabled bay, Pay-by-Phone bay and exempts them from “Streetspace measures” – Southwark’s version of LTNs.

    For Sophie, who wasn’t aware of the scheme, it’s a positive move towards reducing the anxiety around Blue Badge thefts and waiting for replacements.

    “It saves people work. It saves people the hassle. It’s just a no-brainer.”

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