National media takes up Voice of the North’s Blue Badge campaign

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There are more disabilities than the simple physical: an inability to spell, for example!

OUR exclusive revelation that a new ‘European-less’ Blue Badge for the UK’s 2.5m disabled drivers had been quietly introduced has been picked up by the national media.

Under the headline ‘EU stars disappear from British disabled drivers’ blue badges’, The Guardian newspaper’s Brexit Correspondent, Lisa O’Carroll, took up the mysterious whodunnit first revealed by VoiceoftheNorth.net last week and plunged deeper into the unexplained decision by the Department for Transport to make the switch BEFORE the UK has left the EU.

The Guardian reported: “The government has removed the EU emblem and its 12 gold stars from British disabled drivers’ parking badges even though the UK has not left the bloc, it has emerged.

“The move comes months after the row over the government decision to remove the words “European Union” from British passports.

“It has caused concern among disabled drivers who fear their blue badges will no longer be accepted in the EU because of the absence of the stars, which demonstrate the car driver has EU rights. The Department for Transport has refused to say when it removed the stars, who took the decision or why it was deemed appropriate.”

The Guardian article went on to quote Berwick-on-Tweed resident Linda Joanes who said she was ” “very surprised to find my new blue badge has no EU symbol.

“I have used my badge in France – large supermarket car parks etc – and last year it was also very useful, for example in giving priority boarding on the international ferry across Carlingford Lough between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Was not expecting this change and no information or warning given.”

The old blue badge was emblazoned with the letters “UK” encircled by 12 gold stars on a blue background, the symbol of the EU. This has been issued to approximately 2.5 million people in the UK to limit the amount of walking between their vehicle and their destination.

The new badge retains the blue background but is stripped of stars and the words “European communities model”.

The Guardian reporter went on to quote ‘one retired person who is applying for a disabled parking badge’ (actually me, from my original article!) who said he was “concerned decisions like this were being taken behind closed doors before the UK has left the EU, is still a full member of the EU, and there is still a chance it will remain in the bloc depending on the result of the election.

“Has the blue badge scheme quit the EU before the rest of the UK? If so, on whose authority was the redesign undertaken? What if the government changes and we remain/revoke article 50? Another big redesign? Seems to me that some of the most vulnerable in Britain should be made aware.”

Lisa O’Carroll’s excellent article went on to seek a shaky verification of the ‘secret’ redesign from a DfT spokesman who said they could not answer questions on the matter but confirmed the redesign. “The new blue badge design was rolled out earlier this year. These badges are still valid in the EU,” he said.

Asked if the badges were valid in the EU in a deal situation, or a no-deal situation, the DfT declined to answer, citing purdah rules which forbid civil servants during a General Election run-up to comment on matters which could become election issues (such as the already-withheld report on Russian influence in British politics).

Earlier this year, Sajid Javid, the then home secretary, was forced to defend the redesigned British passport, saying it was “sensible and efficient” to remove the words “European Union” from the cover.

The move angered those applying for new passports who were hoping to hold on to an emblem of EU membership.

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