A decision to refuse a family’s bid for a disabled badge for their severely autistic son in Bracknell has been upheld.

A mum had applied for a disabled parking badge, called a blue badge, for her son, who was three years-old at the time of the application.

The mum said her son exhibited extremely challenging behaviour, and hoped that getting a Blue Badge would help him go out more and make things easier for her family.

In the application for the Blue Badge, the mum laid out how difficult it was to take her son out with her, stating that he was a risk to himself and others, and that he would often have meltdowns and accidentally put himself in danger when out.

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She argued that she needed to be close to her destination so that she could carry him around if he refused to walk. she also stated she wanted him away from other cars, so if he did run away he would not be near other cars or the road. She added that she requires space so that she can physically get him into and out of her car properly, as he would often kick and flail about.

But Bracknell Forest Council chose not to give the boy a blue badge, as the boy’s difficulties were not related to his physical ability to walk.

The mum attempted to reverse the council’s decision through the Local Government Ombudsman, which has the power to advise councils to overturn their original decisions, offer compensation, and/or apologise.

However, the Local Government Ombudsman reviewed the case and ruled that the decision to refuse the mum and boy a Blue Badge was a decision the council was “entitled to make.”

Yet the ombudsman did find that the council failed to adequately explain why it had reached its decision in the first refusal letter sent to the mum.

Bracknell News: A disabled access blue badge, which allows you to park in disabled parking plays if you display it.A disabled access blue badge, which allows you to park in disabled parking plays if you display it.

She first applied for a disabled badge for her son in September 2019. Three months later, in December, the council wrote to her stating that the application had been refused. The letter states: “I am sorry to have to inform you that he does not qualify for the issue of a badge from the information you have given on the application form as there is no evidence of an ‘enduring and substantial disability’ and behaviour is not related to walking.”

She attempted to get the decision of the council reviewed in March 2020. The mum provided supplementary information including her son’s enrolment into a special school in September 2020, that he had an  Education and Health Care Plan and that he receives Disability Living Allowance.

However, the council replied a month later saying her son did not meet the criteria to  automatically get a Blue Badge, and re-iterated its assessment that the boy’s difficulties were not related to walking.

The ombudsman found that the council’s initial refusal letter lacked detail, and recommended that the council improve the way it documents its approach to considering applications.

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The distribution of Blue Badges is handled by the Adult Social Care department Bracknell Forest Council.

The department is currently reviewing its application process and the council’s overview, scrutiny and management committee is conducting its own investigation as well.

It comes after it was found that Bracknell Forest Council had one of the biggest disparities in handing out blue badges to those with hidden disabilities compared to those with physical disabilities in the UK.

Melanie O’Rourke, the council’s assistant director of Adult Social Care, said: “Following the LGO case from 2019/2020 which found that the decision made by the council ultimately not to grant a blue badge was one it was entitled to reach, we have nevertheless made several improvements since then including the quality and amount of information that is given to applicants.

“The Blue Badge service is under review and the LGO findings and feedback from users are continually being taken into account, and will be implemented moving forward.”