Blue Badge - You Have To Want it
by Chartreuse Green 1/8/2013 15.39
With a Blue Badge up for renewal, I received a letter I should have acted on immediately. Issued by the local council it enables the posessor to park in disabled bays and on yellow lines for certain times in certain conditions. Step one: apply on line.
After four attempts during which pages failed to fill in and my session timed out, the text was completed with only a photo upload remaining. I asked my aerial photographer significant other to take a suitably flattering portrait pic but the ideal moment with blow-dried hair and makeup failed to present itself. A dilly-dally and a business/pleasure trip abroad postponed the shoot. The Blue Badge photo is now required to be of passport standard. A light background, no hat, and no smiling which produces an expression somewhere between mean and tragic. My SO accomplished a result that appropriately leaned more towards the latter but, on printing out, suggested a recent dose of radiation. However, there was no time to be lost with only two weeks to go before my current Badge expired.
Returning to the website to add the image to the form, I found my reference number unrecognised. I called the helpline to be informed that the system retains your information for only two weeks. Oh and how long will it take for me to get the new badge? Six to eight weeks. Gulp. That would mean an entire badge-less month. However, I hastily refiled the form, uploaded the photo and possessed my soul in patience. Remarkably, within days, the following Saturday in fact, I received a letter with the news that my application was successful and I could now proceed to Step Two:
Present myself with ID, proof of address, passport standard photo, and any other specified documents at one of two offices in the Borough during office hours. Came Monday morning and I hied me to the nearest of the two locations with convenient parking and a long queue. However, whilst propping myself against a thoughtfully positioned railing, a security guard came to ask me about my enquiry. On explaining I was there for a Blue Badge renewal, he issued me with a ticked bearing the word 'Compliments' and the number 6, so that I could now sit down to wait. I found a comfortable armchair and met a pleasant family with whom I whiled away the minutes until a charming, willowy, Irish lady came to my seat to deal with my paperwork. I noticed how kindly and courteously she dealt with everyone there, the sympathy and understanding and professionalism she showed. Soon my documents were scanned or handed in and step 3 explained to me:
On Friday, 5 days away, I need only call a specified telephone number, pay a tenner by card, which I have done, my Badge is ordered and should arrive in 7 - 10 days.
So, my advice is, before you start on the online form:
- Sort out your photo. The requirements are here: https://www.gov.uk/photos-for-passports. You don't need to have it countersigned. I was asked just to write my name and date of birth on the back. You can get photos taken in a booth maybe in a local supermarket or mall for around £5.
- Have your National Insurance number to hand. It will be on a payslip, a tax return, or benefits office letter. To find out what it is, in the absence of paperwork, there's help here: https://www.gov.uk/lost-national-insurance-number
- Have your current Blue Badge serial number with you if you are renewing.
Now you're ready to fill in the form here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge.
This time I'm going to invest the two pounds requested on ebay in a wallet for the badge and clock so that even after three years they look approaching pristine.
More complex than in days of yore, you do need a computer and internet access, you do need to obtain a photo you can live with for the next three years, you do need to gather the documents and make it to a council office and you do need remember to make the call and pay the fee. The up side is it's only one every three years and the office visit can be unexpectedly fulfilling.