An overhaul of the way parking badges for disabled people are allocated in Bracknell has been recommended following an investigation.

The investigators, made up of a group of councillors, have urged bosses at the council to make the process of getting a blue badge more empathetic and make a bespoke form which people applying for disabled Blue Badges in Bracknell Forest can use.

It comes after a number of families with those who have non-visible disabilities such as mental illnesses and autism have had their Blue Badge applications refused, and after Bracknell Forest Council was found to have one one of the biggest disparities of allocations between those with visible and non-visible disabilities in the country.

READ MORE: Bracknell Forest has one of highest disparities for Blue Badge approvals in the UK, 'shocking' new figures reveal

The councillors heard from members of the public who had tried to secure disabled badges, other councils, charities and former Local Democracy Reporter Oliver Sirrell as part of their investigation, which was started in the hope of improving the process of how disabled parking badges, known as blue badges, are given to those who apply for them.

One witness, Lyndsey Collins, who’s application for a Blue Badge for her daughter was rejected, argued those in charge of allocating Blue Badges needed to “go out of their way to understand” the position the applicant is in and how a disabled badge can positively impact their lives.

Bracknell News: Lyndsey Collins. She had applied to get a Blue Badge for her daughter, but her request was refused. Credit: Bracknell Forest Council / YouTubeLyndsey Collins. She had applied to get a Blue Badge for her daughter, but her request was refused. Credit: Bracknell Forest Council / YouTube

At a recent Bracknell Forest Council meeting the investigating councillors recommendations have been delivered.

The recommendations have been made to councillor Dale Birch, the Conservative executive member for adult services, health and housing, who’s in charge of the council’s adult services department, which is responsible for dishing out Blue Badges. The recommendations are that:

1) The council’s executive conducts a review to make sure that blue badge refusal letters are empathetic, easy to understand and demonstrate to applicants that all their evidence has been considered.

2) The council’s executive director for delivery Kevin Gibbs creates local guidelines that explain the approach to assessing blue badges in Bracknell Forest. This local guidance should be clear how the council uses its website and application form to provide and collect information, and how it considers evidence from a wide range of professionals and trusted organisations.

The councillors have asked that both of these changes be made by the end of the year. It is now up to Cllr Birch to enact  the recommendations – however, they are not binding, meaning they can potentially be ignored.

READ MORE: Refusal of mum's bid to gain blue badge for autistic son in Bracknell upheld

The investigation was conducted by the council’s Wellbeing and Finance Overview and Scrutiny Panel, which conduct investigations into council policies and produce recommendations for how these policies can be improved.

Cllr Malcolm Tullett, the chairman of the panel (formerly a Conservative, now and Independent), said: “I’d like to express my absolute sincere thanks to everyone who took part in this, officers, and members, and the witnesses, everybody, it was a very useful and worthwhile exercise.”

The panel’s recommendations were discussed by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission on Thursday, July 8. The commission voted unanimously to send the recommendations of the investigation to the executive.

Bracknell News: A Blue Badge which people can use to park in disabled parking bays across the country.A Blue Badge which people can use to park in disabled parking bays across the country.

The department of adult services is also conducting its own review of the Blue Badge process which will conclude in September.

The council's assistant director of Adult Social Care Melanie O'Rourke was grilled by councillors about the progress of the internal review in April.

The panel has also produced recommendations to the department that they:

1) Keep a record of the reasons why applications are approved for future reference

2) Ensure appropriate medical evidence and expertise has been considered before a final refusal decision is made

3) Overhaul the Blue Badge application form

4) That the assessment process includes greater understanding of medical and neurological conditions with access to expert knowledge for complex and sometimes rare conditions

5) Do work with relevant organisations to help manage expectations and increase understanding for applicants and employees

These recommendations have been delivered to the adult services department and have been incorporated into its review.

Reacting to the news, James Sunderland, the Conservative MP for Bracknell, said: "I continue to lobby Department for Transport for a change in policy but I am also grateful to Bracknell Forest Council for leaning in.

"This is ultimately about supporting those who need our support."