Sheila Herbert is the Blue Badge Administrator at Ceredigion County Council. She is dedicated to making sure that eligible Ceredigion residents have their parking concessions to help make their lives a little bit more manageable. Reflecting on her work, Sheila gives an overview of her role and key information on the Blue Badge scheme.

“When people apply for their Blue Badge I check all their details and assess whether they’re eligible for the scheme or not.

The Blue Badge Scheme is a parking concession for people who are disabled, have severe walking difficulties or severe cognitive impairment. It’s available to both drivers and passengers and it means that they’re able to park closer to their destination. It also means having that little bit of extra space around their vehicle when they park in a disabled parking bay – absolutely necessary if you’re wheelchair-bound and need to consider taking your chair out of the car and have space to transfer from the car to the chair.

Did you know that you can also apply for a badge if you care for a child with a health condition that affects their mobility?

It makes me unhappy when I hear stories of Blue Badge holders being challenged or questioned on their entitlement. Everyone with one has a valid reason - not all disabilities are visible.

In Wales, we don’t charge for blue badges; the National Assembly fund these.

Within Ceredigion, as with the whole of the UK, eligibility criteria are divided into the following two groups:

1. People who are automatically entitled to a badge without any further assessment - usually because they are already receiving certain state benefits, or are registered as blind.

2. People who are entitled to a badge after a further assessment - usually people in this group are not receiving any of the state benefits. This is where you can tell us why you can’t walk, what your current medical condition is, anything that affects your ability to be mobile. It could be a heart-related condition or a cognitive issue. However, with any case which falls into this group, an individual will need to provide us with evidence of their condition and how it affects their mobility.

If you think you may be entitled to a Blue Badge, we will assess you, even if you’ve previously been refused in the past - we look at each individual case with great detail.

If you’re due to have or have had an operation recently, or you’re expected to take a while to recover from a short-term illness, you may be eligible for a short-term Blue Badge. A consultant would need to write to confirm that you’re on a waiting list and it’s going to take time to recover or proof that you’ve had an operation.

At the council, we can offer support for people to fill in the application forms. Our Porth y Gymuned Team - four Community Connectors who support individuals and their families to access advice and assistance. They can come out to your home to help with the forms. Both Age Cymru, Wales and West Housing are organisations that you can go to for help too with filling in the forms.

You can avoid spending money on postage - applicants can visit the Council Offices to have their documents photocopied or to return completed forms.

You can even avoid the cost and hassle of having to sort a passport photo out for your Blue Badge, as we can take your photo for you for free at Canolfan Rheidol or the Council Offices at Aberaeron, Cardigan and Lampeter. Alternatively, you can email us your photo.

Unfortunately there still seems to be a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the Blue Badge scheme, my aim here has been to provide information and to raise awareness of the eligibility criteria – perhaps someone is reading this right now unaware that they could well be eligible for a Blue Badge -- which could really make a positive change in their day-to-day life. If this is you, please do get in touch.”

You can apply for a Blue Badge online via the council’s website, or by phoning the council’s Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570 881. Reminders are no longer sent out to advise Blue Badge holders that their badge is expiring so, always check the expiry date and allow adequate time to renew your badge by completing a new application form.