The decision to extend the Blue Badge parking scheme to include people suffering from mental illnesses has been largely welcomed by disability groups and campaigners, including mental health charities.
It means that people with mental illnesses can apply for the parking permit and use it to park in wider, more accessible bays.
But some campaigners have doubts over the scheme’s extension and believe it could actually do more harm than good to disabled people using Blue Badges.
Disabled rights campaigner and founder of International Wheelchair Day, Steve Wilkinson, (more commonly known as WheelchairSteve), supports the scheme but is sceptical over its extension.
He said: “It’s important to emphasise that the purpose of Blue Badges is to provide convenient and appropriate accessibility for those who can’t or have difficulty walking or who can’t use normal sized parking spaces.
“It is not, nor should it be, about free parking, even though for many that is the attraction. Indeed, over the years, it has become a free parking pass by default, therefore desirable by many non-disabled people or those with disabilities where the criteria mentioned above does not apply.
“The current system is already open to abuse with people borrowing blue badges or leaving the actual disabled badge holder in the car while able bodied family or friends go to the shops instead.”
He added: “Given the principle purpose of blue badges and disabled parking bays is to help people who have physical mobility problems where walking is either very difficult or not even possible.
“While mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, are genuine medical conditions and those suffering need treatment and support; I’m unclear how access to a disabled parking bay will actually help.
“Disabled parking provision is already limited and subject to widespread abuses it’s my view, I’m afraid, that this new policy is only going to make things worse and limit further the opportunities for physically disabled people to get out and about and would urge a rethink from the powers that be.”