Our locally based groups which provide transport for older people and those with a disability in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton and the surrounding area, will be pleased to know that they will get their blue badges again. FDM bus charity (For Disability Mobility) will use its badge once again on its specially adapted bus. The charity operates from the grounds of Dolphin Manor care home.
I’ve previously raised this issue on behalf of our local groups including Rothwell Rollers, a charity which has been running for 20 years, funded solely by donations, has volunteer drivers who use their own cars to take members on trips to the shops, hospital appointments and even for days out, and it was sorely hit by the blue badge refusal, which isn’t right when it’s doing such a grand job for those who need it. I arranged a meeting with officers some time ago to raise objection and question the decision.
More recently Ron Frost of FDM (For Disability Mobility) and I had a chat about this at the International Older People’s day event held at Blackburn Hall, which spurred me to try to do something about the situation again. Local groups had been told by adult social care that the decision couldn’t be changed as it was the guidance from government. Ron explained that FDM have had a Blue Badge for 17 years, but its renewal was declined by Leeds City Council. The organisation, which arranges trips out and transport for older and disabled people in the local area, and which has a special lift fitted to the bus, was forced to ask its members to bring their own blue badges to use on FDM’s bus when they were taken out on trips, which was a major inconvenience to FDM which provides a fantastic service for our communities.
The move by the council followed changes to guidance/regulations from central government, and this is what council officers said they were basing their decision on to turn down FDM and similar organisations for a blue badge, although it seemed that there was an element of interpretation in the decision making.
I intervened and asked Cllr Adam Ogilvie, the Executive Member responsible for adult social care, to meet with Ron Frost so Ron could explain how the decision was impacting on the work of the charity as well as other local transport charities and groups, this meeting took place last week.
After meeting with Ron, Cllr Ogilvie then this week asked officers to look at the issue again including the guidance/regulations. Having taken legal advice from the council and speaking to Tom Riordan, the council’s chief executive, Adam instructed officers in Adult Social Care to revise the council’s policy so that such organisations will be eligible for an organisational blue badge. Officers will be devising the new policy and it will require a delegated decision and a clear process for organisations to follow.FDM, Rothwell Rollers and others locally are helping vulnerable people to get out of their homes into the wider community, which they enjoy enormously, and helping to prevent social isolation – something that is central to our health and wellbeing strategy in the city. I believe this change in policy is a victory for common sense.
People who are working for the good of Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton should be helped wherever possible and I was pleased to be able to assist in getting the right decision for everyone concerned.