Blue badge will ‘make all the difference’ for those with hidden disabilities

Ben Compton who has autism spectrum disorder with his blue badge. Picture: Robert Compton

Ben Compton who has autism spectrum disorder with his blue badge. Picture: Robert Compton - Credit: Archant

New legislation that will allow Sid Valley residents with ‘hidden disabilities’ to take the stress out of parking comes into force this week.

Changes to the blue badge parking scheme has been extended to passengers or drivers diagnosed with conditions such as autism, dementia or anxiety, to help remove barriers they face when they travel.

The Government announced back in June it was the biggest shake-up to the scheme in 40 years, with the new legislation coming into effect on August 31.

Under the new criteria, anyone who cannot undertake a journey without risk to their or another's health and safety, encounters psychological distress, or experiences difficulty when walking can apply.

Among those set to benefit from the badge is former Sidmouth shop worker Ben Compton who has autism spectrum disorder.

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Ben's dad Robert, who lives in Tipton St John, said the badge will 'make all the difference' to his son's life.

The 31-year-old, who used to work at Trumps, received his badge last week and hopes to raise awareness among others with similar conditions.

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For the last 12 years Ben has worked for Sainsbury's in Alphingon and is a member of the National Autism Society.

The society lobbied the Government to include conditions such as Ben's within the scheme.

Mr Compton said: "Devon County Council who administers the blue badge scheme has clearly embraced the spirit of the new legislation and following an early application from Ben for a blue badge, promptly approved his application and issued him with his blue badge last week, this privilege will make a great difference to Ben's life.

"The blue badge scheme is yet another way Devon County Council can make a positive difference to people like Ben with hidden disabilities.

"Ben wanted to highlight to others with a similar condition to his and also others with hidden disabilities whose needs are often overlooked, that the time has now come to apply for a blue badge.

"He hopes that his positive experience and successful application to Devon County Council for his blue badge will encourage others to apply as well."

He thanked the council and long-standing councillor Christine Channon for supporting Ben through school and the application.

The blue badge scheme only applies to on-street parking and may exempt users from parking time limits and parking on yellow lines where there are no restrictions.

To apply for a blue badge visit the government website or follow links from Devon County Council's website.

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