BLUE Badge applicants are to face a new independent assessment of their rights to disability parking.
From March 7 the council will be using a company called Access Independent to carry out independent mobility assessments.
They will determine whether the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for a badge. The assessment was previously carried out by a GP.
It comes as the government announce a crackdown on what it says is widespread abuse of the blue badge system.
In the UK around 2.5m badges are in circulation, allowing drivers to park on yellow lines as well as avoid parking and congestion charges.
In Kirklees 11,583 badges were issued in 2009/10.
The Government said there had to be changes to restore credibility to the system, but many will fear the rights of people who deserve a badge could be lost, thanks to those who use them fraudulently.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “People with a disability are now able to apply at more Kirklees Council offices thanks to a new electronic blue badge application form system.
“This includes Library Information Centres, Kirklees Information Points, Gateway to Care and via the council’s website at www.kirklees.gov.uk
“People wanting to apply for a Blue Badge can also get help to complete their immediate applications at Kirklees Council customer service points across the district, including Gateway to Care sites at Dewsbury and Huddersfield by calling 01484 414933. They are also available at Kirklees Information Points Cleckheaton Town Hall and library.
“People can have their photo taken and they will then have the badge made up and given to them whilst they wait.
This ensures that the applicant receives the badge, clock and the relevant booklet on how to use the badge correctly.
“If the customer has recent confirmation of eligibility and has the expired badge we can also take their photo and make up their badge whilst they wait.
“Reminder letters are being sent to applicants whose badges are due to expire.
“Expired badges and badges that are no longer needed are collected in and destroyed.”
For many the sight of someone laden with shopping, apparently moving freely towards a car in a disabled bay provokes fury.
Cards though are issued for a number of conditions, such as angina, which may not be visible externally.
If a driver who is mobile can take the place of a motorist in a wheelchair with constant mobility needs, is the system working?
The Disabled Person’s Parking Badge Scheme (then an orange badge) was introduced in December 1971 as part of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.
In 2007 it was expanded to children under two and the design was altered to prevent fraud.
With council’s being given the power to confiscate badges, the Government will face accusations of toughening up on the disabled.