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Cambridgeshire County Council told to apologise after refusing blue badge in error

A woman was caused “unnecessary stress” having to fight for a blue badge after it was initially refused in error.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been told to apologise and pay the woman involved £250 in recognition of the distress it caused her.

New Shire Hall, home of Cambridgeshire County Council
New Shire Hall, home of Cambridgeshire County Council

The authority said it had apologised and taken on board lessons to minimise the risk of something like this happening again.

A complaint was lodged with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) by the woman after the council refused to renew her blue badge.

The woman, referred to by the LGO as Ms X, had originally been granted a blue badge in 2020, but when she came to renew the badge in 2023, the council refused her application saying the medical evidence she had provided was three years old.

Ms X appealed the decision telling the authority that her condition had not improved since 2020, and that she had been diagnosed with additional mental health issues.

As part of her appeal Ms X provided more information to the council, including a letter from her GP and a patient summary record.

The council dismissed the appeal claiming there was “insufficient evidence of psychological distress in the context of walking or undertaking a journey”.

However, after Ms X complained to the LGO, the council admitted there had been an error in the consideration of the appeal and agreed to renew her blue badge.

The Ombudsman recognised the council had now provided Ms X with a blue badge, but said this action was not enough to remedy the injustice it said had been caused.

The LGO said: “To the council’s credit, it acknowledged its administrative error during the investigation and provided Ms X with a blue badge.

“However, this alone is insufficient to remedy the injustice Ms X experienced.

“Ms X was without a badge for around three months causing her unnecessary stress.

“She also put in time and trouble pursuing her complaint with the council and this office, again causing her unnecessary stress. A further remedy is required.”

The Ombudsman ordered the council to issue Ms X with a formal apology for the error in considering her application, and for the distress caused to her during the time she was left without a blue badge.

The LGO said the authority should also pay Ms X £250 in acknowledgment of the impact.

A council spokesperson said: “We accept the Ombudsman’s findings and have apologised to the complainant for the administrative error. We renewed the blue badge as soon as we were aware a mistake had been made.

“We receive more than 15,000 blue badge applications each year. Incidents such as this are rare but we have taken on board any lessons learned to minimise the risk of anything similar happening again.”

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