Fewer disabled drivers in Aberdeen are facing long waits to get their blue badges renewed – but there is still work to be done, a councillor has said.
The Evening Express revealed in September that some disabled motorists were being forced off the road due to red tape and Aberdeen City Council vowed to blitz the problem.
The issue arises as people applying to renew their blue badges have to see an independent assessor and there is currently a 14-week wait for appointments.
In the meantime, anyone whose blue badge has expired cannot use it.
As of September, there were 125 drivers in the city seeking renewals and having to wait 14 weeks.
Among those caught up in the backlog was Raymond Weaver, who struggles to walk due to chronic leg problems caused by diabetes.
He paid £20 for a blue badge renewal and said he was shocked to find out he would have to wait three-and-a-half months for it to come through.
Mr Weaver, of Mastrick Close in Aberdeen, said: “Not being able to use my expired badge means I essentially can’t drive.
“When I get out of my car I need a scooter and it needs space around the car that you don’t get with normal spaces.”
Aberdeen City Council processed Mr Weaver’s application after the Evening Express raised the matter and he now has his new blue badge.
The local authority’s staff also volunteered to work weekends to deal with the backlog – and their efforts appeared to have succeeded.
New figures show 75 drivers are waiting for their appointment with the independent assessor or waiting to have their appointment arranged.
Councillor Martin Greig, who has investigated the issue, said: “This does look like a step in the right direction but the pace of progress should continue and there is still work to be done.”
First-time blue badge applications meeting certain criteria have their applications processed automatically – making it quicker – and the council has tweaked the system to allow some people applying for renewals to use the same method.
A council spokesman said: “A recent upgrade to the national blue badge system has enabled us to identify renewal applications that can be processed the same way as automatic criteria applications, with the aim of processing these within 10 days.
“As of December 18, we had two automatic renewal applications outstanding.
“Automatic renewal applications are currently being processed within 10 working days.”