8 February 2014

Just when you thought it was safe to go out ....

It isn't! A disabled friend is visiting you from Poland and you want to find out if their blue badge is valid in England. It should be simple shouldn't it as we are all in the EU? No, it isn't.

So you start by asking Mr Mustard who doesn't know the answer because this is the first time the question has been asked of him.

I've established that my disabled friend should have the same concessions as a UK blue badge holder.

However, the Polish blue badge has no clock-disk hence it is not possible to indicate the time of arrival necessary to show where there is time restriction on parking. I'd like to clarify what happens in such a situation, to avoid risk of getting a 'ticket', but can't get a clear answer.

The only reference to this I found on this site:


and it says:

Parking disc – The UK Parking Card is used in conjunction with a parking disc, but a visitor from another country who display their Parking Card without a parking disc will be given the same concessions. (Mr Mustard can't see that happening, he expects an instant PCN)

When I rang Barnet Assisted Travel Team they told me that without a blue badge accompanied by a clock-disk it will not be possible e.g. to park on yellow lines.

I rang other LA's and they gave me conflicting information. I wonder if in your extensive experience with parking matters you came across such an issue? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Before Mr Mustard had got his teeth into this question, there was a progress, well sort of, report

Hello again

Just to update you on my findings in case you might in the future come across a similar case i.e. use of an EU Blue Badge card when parking in London.

1. Harrow LA's people were very, very helpful indeed. They confirmed that it'd be OK to use a Polish disabled blue badge in conjunction with a British parking disc. They said that they just received new parking discs and even offered to send me one. When they found out that we live out of their borough they said that it doesn't matter and they'd send it to me anyway ! Harrow get complimented by Mr Mustard again (twice in a week).

2. A gentleman from Harringey told me that we can't use Blue Badge which hasn't been issued in this country in conjunction with a clock/disk which has. We'd get a parking ticket in such circumstances. (How can you tell which country the time clock comes from as it isn't labelled?)

3. Similarly, I was assured by Barnet Assisted Travel lady that we definitely would get a parking ticket if we parked and displayed a parking clock/disc from this country in conjunction with a Blue Badge from another country. The lady I spoke with (twice) apparently double checked it with NSL and they confirmed that they wouldn't accept any clocks/disks used with Blue Badge from another country. (One would expect NSL to know the rules, aren't they meant to be parking experts?)

What it means is that we'd be able to use some concessions when my friend visits us, but for example we wouldn't be able to park "on a single or double yellow lines for up to 3 hours" - as normally English and Welsh Blue Badge holders are entitled to.

Of course it's not end of the world -I'm used to all the frustrating parking limitations.

I am still not sure whether these LAs interpret EU legislation correctly. Having learnt that it's worth to double check what officials tell me I tried to find out what the law really says. I soon gave up when I tried to enter EU legislation and double check at europa.eu


So it seems that when using a 'foreign' Blue Badge it's best to apply more caution and not use it as any other British Blue Badge, despite what an official looking website says

fia disabled travellers.com

With kind regards

Mr Mustard did a little research and found the website run by central London boroughs which has a section on this which makes it look very simple such that using a Polish card wouldn't present a problem in the centre of London but don't visit Haringey! Of course, it is all very well when you are using a foreign registered car as nothing much will happen to you in the way of enforcement (except possibly clamping and removal which shouldn't happen if you have a valid blue badge displayed but doubtless your foreign badge will be held to be invalid!) but if you use a foreign badge in a UK registered car then you can expect the full weight of the process to bear down on you.

Mr Mustard has the advantage of being able to approach Barnet Council client side parking management directly when there is a matter of import (he tries not to bother them with trivial matters) and so he emailed them. Bang, within hours he had this response:

Dear Mr Mustard

The validity of a Polish Blue Badge is dependent on when and where it was issued in Poland.

A Polish Blue Badge issued before Poland joined the European Union in 2004 is not valid in the United Kingdom), as they do not feature an expiration date. All badges issued by the Polish central government after 2004 should now feature an expiration date and have a ‘PL’ surrounded by white stars on the bottom right hand corner. These are valid throughout the EU. Several Polish cities issue their own blue badges (in a similar vein to Westminster & Kensington and Chelsea), these are only valid in those cities, and nowhere else.

I would recommend your friend contact his/her Enforcement Authority and request a Time Clock should the visitor wish to park on single or double yellow line for a period of up to 180 minutes (or any parking place with a maximum stay). I am not sure if Councils in the United Kingdom are legally obliged to provide one to visitors, but I am sure most Councils would not say no. (you would have hoped not but sadly considering we are talking about disabled people there was much less assistance than there should have been with the notable exception of Harrow).

If you were able to show me a copy of the Blue Badge I would be able to verify whether or not it is valid in the United Kingdom. (A copy is being obtained and will be cleared with the parking manager)

I would recommend both the visitor and their friend visit the europa.eu website. It has information on Blue Badges in all working languages of the European Union.

Kind regards

There is so much detail in this response that Mr Mustard is inclined to think that it is 100% correct. It is also a much more complicated situation than he had envisaged. Mr Mustard expects that the next fortnightly management meeting with NSL will include this point so that it filters down to traffic wardens.

Hopefully this information will prevent any friends of yours from getting a PCN.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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