Barking & Dagenham Council instructed to reassess Blue Badge rejections after Ombudsman investigation

An east London council has been told to reassess the applications of anyone who was rejected from having a disabled parking badge in the last six months.

Barking and Dagenham council has launched a review into how it deals with Blue Badge applications after an Ombudsman investigation found a series of errors in the way it dealt with an application from a man with a hearing impairment.

Under new legislation some applicants will qualify automatically for a Blue Badge, which gives disabled drivers and passengers the right to priority parking.

When a driver is not automatically eligible, councils must assess their individual circumstances and decide if they qualify.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Michael King said Barking and Dagenham council appeared to reject one man’s application purely because he did not automatically qualify and then refused to review its decision and failed to offer him a right of appeal.

When the Ombudsman tried to investigate after the man complained, it found the council had already deleted his records and could not explain if it had gone on to assess the man’s individual circumstances after rejecting him. It also failed to give him a detailed explanation for why it rejected both his application and his request for a review.

Mr King said: “While I cannot say whether the man should have been awarded a Blue Badge, I have found the council did not consider his application properly.

“The problems highlighted in my investigation suggest there may be other people in the borough similarly affected, so I have asked the council to invite anyone it has rejected over the past six months to submit their applications for reassessment.”

A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham council said: “The council is undertaking a review, which will encompass the mobility service as a whole and will specifically review service process and how applications are assessed to ensure full compliance.

“The council is not required to keep copies of rejected applications although this can be considered good practice. As such, we are now going to keep all applications successful or otherwise for a period of one year to enable reviews to take place.

“The council will now be issuing a public notice on its website that invites applicants to re-apply if they have had a previous application rejected.

“We are in the process of updating our procedures for processing Blue Badge applications. We remain on track to complete this piece of work and train staff by October. We have also agreed to reconsider the resident’s application for a Blue Badge.“

Rachael Burford

Local Democracy Reporter