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18.06.03 - CAMDEN TAKES STEPS TO REDUCE BLUE BADGE THEFT - AND CONSERVATIVES SUSPEND PETERBOROUGH COUNCIL LEADER



PRESENTER: WINIFRED ROBINSON

ROBINSON
Time now for more on stories that we've been following on You and Yours over the past few months and Carolyn Atkinson is here, Carolyn.

ATKINSON
Well first the problem of thieves stealing blue badges from the cars of people with disabilities. Back in April we looked at this growing problem. Basically blue badges give disabled people free parking near their homes and near the shops etc. Now at the time we spoke to Theresa Fox, she's a wheelchair user living in the London borough of Camden and she has had her badge stolen three times.

FOX
The first time the badge was actually stolen, a few months ago, it was parked outside the house. I suddenly opened the door in the morning and there was broken glass everywhere and the badge had gone. It's not something I can do without. I'd just got everything fixed - got the badge replaced, the car replaced - and parked in another disabled bay on the other side of Camden, went to the swimming baths with the children, came out and it had happened again.

ATKINSON
Now the fact is that these blue badges have a very high value because they can be used on any car, they're not marked with the number plate of the car and they're transferable between vehicles. So the thief can then sell them on for as much as £40 each and then the person who buys it can then park anywhere for free. And at the moment in Camden alone there are 80 blue badge thefts every month. So the Camden Council Borough have voted last night to bring in a new badge scheme, which will be the first of its kind across the country. The head of street policy there is Doug Aimer [phon.]

AIMER
What we are doing is offering blue badge holders within Camden the chance to have a second badge, which they could use instead of their badge when they're parked close to their home which would have the number of their vehicle on it. What that would mean is that badge would have a very low market value and not be particularly attractive to thieves and would enable the householder to leave their car on the street overnight with that badge in, without risking losing their blue badge.

ATKINSON
And you say it has a low market value, that's because you can only use it in that particular zone of Camden?

AIMER
That's right. Camden is split down into multiple parking zones and what we would do is this second badge would have the zone name on it and so it would only be of any use to someone who's lived within that zone.

ATKINSON
Now obviously your wardens have now got to be aware of this scheme. Do you think this can work across the country because this is the first time anyone's come up with this isn't it?

AMER
AIMER
Yes I think it would work across the country and it doesn't need any special legislation, you can do it entirely under the legislation that already exists and I think clearly it is something that other authorities could consider.

ROBINSON
Anything else today?

ATKINSON
Yeah well we've been covering the problem being faced by people with disabilities in Peterborough. Now we spent a lot of time trying to get an interview with the Conservative leader of the city council there called Neville Sanders, he banned the painting of new disabled parking bays outside people's homes until at least September of this year. Now one of the things we wanted to discuss with him were the comments he made in a letter to a disabled woman telling her that if there was a £5 note on the ground she would beat him to it. Now it looks as if we're definitely not going to get that interview, at least not as the Conservative leader, because following controversial remarks he made over the weekend on the subject of Northern Ireland he has now actually been suspended as a member of the Conservative Party with immediate effect and he's also going to be the subject of an inquiry.

ROBINSON
And is there anything that you can tell us about what he said about Northern Ireland or is it not repeatable?

ATKINSON
I think I'd perhaps better leave that but basically he's made a number of comments over a period of time but it was the issue of Northern Ireland that the Conservative Party actually looked at this weekend.

ROBINSON
Carolyn Atkinson thank you.





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