Leeds transport charities look set to have blue badges reinstated after battle with council

Mike Ball, right, and Ron Frost of For Disability Mobility, which is based in Rothwell. Picture by Mark Bickerdike.
Mike Ball, right, and Ron Frost of For Disability Mobility, which is based in Rothwell. Picture by Mark Bickerdike.
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Two community transport charities which had their blue badges taken away by Leeds City Council look to have won a battle to have them reinstated.

For Disability Mobility (FDM) and Rothwell Rollers, which are both Rothwell based but serve south and east Leeds, had badges that allowed them to use disabled parking spaces for almost 20 years before their renewals were rejected.

Leeds City Council had claimed a change in Government guidance meant they did not qualify as they did not offer care and transport despite their work helping thousands of elderly, disabled and isolated residents get out and about.

Following meetings with several affected groups, backed by Rothwell ward councillors and local MP Alec Shelbrooke, the local authority appears to have done a U-turn.

Ron Frost, FDM trustee and secretary, said: “Without blue badges we face parking charges on trips and that cost has to be borne by the charity or our users.”

FDM operates an adapted minibus offering group trips to around 3,000 people a year, while Rothwell Rollers has seven volunteer drivers who use their own cars to transport 120 isolated members to shops and hospital appointments.

The organisations had been told to use members’ blue badges, although many do not drive and would need GP assessments to be considered.

Mike Ball, chair of both charities, said the change in policy will save both NHS and council time and money, while Coun Karen Bruce (Lab, Rothwell), who backed the campaign, described the move as “a victory for common sense”.

Coun Adam Ogilvie, executive member for adult social care, explained that blue badges are “imperative” to the charities’ work. He said: “I have met with a number of groups to discuss their concerns over blue badge provision and have since asked that a clear policy is put in place that will ensure they will be issued with the badges they need.”

Visit www.fdmbus.org.uk for information.

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