Fears that Milton Keynes Council will not be ready when more people become eligible for disabled blue badges at the end of next month has spurred a councillor to take action.
Cllr Amanda Marlow (Cons, Loughton & Shenley) is also the mum of a child with autism, and she presented a motion to Wednesday’s meeting of the Full Council to make sure that it is ready for changes in the rules.
Cllr Marlow, who spoke about how she “rejoiced” when the Government announced that people with “hidden disabilities” including learning disabilities, autism, and mental health conditions, would become eligible for blue badges. Her son is prone to running off for no reason, she said.
“These changes affect people all over the borough,” she said. “On behalf of all disabled people, let’s make sure Milton Keynes Council is even more disability aware.”
After a loud round of applause from across the council chamber she was backed by her party colleague, Cllr Alice Jenkins (Danesborough & Walton).
Cllr Jenkins said council officers had known about the changes for a long time but were leaving it to the last minute. “It means people will be guinea pigs, which is unacceptable.
“I hope this motion supports the Cabinet member in getting it sorted.”
Cllr Paul Williams (Lab, Central MK) is a blue badge holder and he said the council needs a strategy to cope and should be prepared for the changes.
And Cllr Carole Baume (Lab, Woughton & Fishermead) said it was important to assess people with certain disabilities at home, and not expect people to get to the council.
Cllr Nigel Long (Lab, Bletchley West), who works for a disability charity in London, welcomed the Government’s rule change. But he added that there is already an issue with the misuse of disabled parking bays which needs sorting out.
Cllr Marlow thanked the council for its unanimous support and received a second, loud, round of applause.
The motion now means that the cabinet is called on to consider providing more “resources” if they are needed by officers. The cabinet has also been required to ensure new procedures are in place as soon as possible, so they can be reviewed before residents start to apply.
Council officers will also have to consider making home or school visits instead of expecting people with learning difficulties, autism and mental health issues to go to the council officers. They will also have to makes sure everyone is properly trained to understand what hidden disabilities are.