Mothers groups and family campaigners have praised a decision by Southend Council to introduce green parking badges for mothers with children under the age of eleven years old – the badges will allow holders to enjoy the same parking rights as holders of disabled ‘Blue’ badges. According to the local government official who introduced the scheme, it is a move that is ‘long overdue,’ and she also feels that the pilot scheme will improve the lives of busy mothers who shouldn’t have to ‘put up’ with inconvenient parking areas.
Felicity Mimms-Tunnelidge is chairwoman of the Southend Borough Green Badge Initiative, and she met our Chief Reporter to explain how the green badge scheme will work for mums in the borough. She said: ‘Supermarkets have been leading the way for a number of years now with their ‘Parent and Child’ parking spaces, but local authorities have been lagging way behind. Therefore, I am delighted that Southend Council has now recognised the daily struggle that mums go through when they need to park their car with under-11’s inside, and this new Green Badge is a huge ‘game changer.’ From 3rd April 2016, all Green Badge holders will be able to enjoy the same parking rights that benefit Blue Badge holders – this includes the ability to park on double yellow lines. While Blue Badge holders still have a legal obligation to park in a manner that won’t cause a danger or obstruction for other vehicles, Southend Civil Enforcement Officers have been instructed to show a certain degree of leniency when observing Green Badge holders who have parked close to a school at drop-off or pick-up time.’
She added: ‘Road maintenance teams are currently updating a number of parking signs in the town to ensure that all official Blue Badge spaces have the new ‘Green Badge’ symbol added to them. By launching this groundbreaking new scheme, Southend Council is sending out a clear message to hard-working mothers in the region – you are welcome to come and shop in our town.’
We asked Ms Mimms-Tunnelidge if there were any plans to extend the scheme to Southend’s fathers with young children. She replied: ‘Initially, the scheme will just be available for cars that are registered in a female driver’s name, and for mixed-sex registered keepers the badge will be confiscated if a male is observed using one. We are constantly monitoring the situation regarding males with children, but at the present time these badges will only be offered to mothers for safety and security reasons.’