DISABLED people are being left without their much-needed parking permits because of a county council fiasco over processing blue badge applications.
Yvonne Baker, 72, has had a hip and knee replacement, and finds it difficult to walk long distances. However, despite she and her partner Peter Saunders applying for a badge renewal almost six weeks before its expiry date, Yvonne is still waiting for her new badge.
Peter, 74, said: “We have never had any problems renewing a badge before. The usual protocol is you re-apply one month before expiry, which we made sure we did.
“But we are still waiting and West Sussex County Council haven’t told us what the hold-up is.”
Peter, who lives with Yvonne in Ethelwulf Road, said it has been a difficult, and painful, few weeks for the couple since they are unable to park close to the shops in Worthing.
“If my partner wants to go to Marks & Spencer, the closest we can now park is at the back of BHS,” he said. “Yvonne finds it very painful to walk a long distance and it just makes trips out very difficult.”
Peter added: “I would have hoped West Sussex County Council would have had a back-up plan, but we have not been offered any alternatives, and have just had to deal with the situation as best we can.”
West Sussex County Council confirmed it is experiencing problems in dealing with the volume of blue badge applications and renewals, and said applicants are facing a wait of up to six weeks.
A spokesman said: “We apologise for any difficulties Mr Saunders may experience, but this is as a result of a change in the assessment process for Blue Badge applications.
“As part of the changes introduced by the department for transport, many more people are being asked to attend a clinic so their mobility needs can be assessed by mobility assessors.
“There are backlogs of between five to six weeks, which is why we have asked people to apply up to two months before their current badge runs out.”
West Sussex County Council said the problem should be resolved by the summer, by bringing in more mobility assessors and revising the paperwork for assessment.
A spokesman said: “Anyone whose blue badge runs out before receiving a new one can be dropped off and picked up at double yellow lines as long as there is no obstruction to traffic.”
Peter said he was “disappointed” there are no emergency measures in place for people in his partner’s position.
“It is very disappointing,” he said. “I guess we will just have to hope it arrives soon. My sympathies go out to other blue badge holders as well – there are a lot of people in Worthing who are in a far worse position than us.”