Scroll down for older items.
2 January 2008
Maria was delighted to attend a special Christmas Party held by two Basingstoke mums for children and families affected by hip dysplasia
After campaigning for over a year the law was changed which means that Blue Badges will now be available nationally to parents of children under two who have severe disabilities including hip dysplasia.
Maria said "Kelli-Ann and Helen have worked very hard to raise awareness for the need to support children with hip dysplasia.
It is truly inspiring, because it shows you what commitment and hard work can achieve"
11 October 2007
Maria said, "Basingstoke Council has led the way in supporting families with children who suffer from hip dysplasia. Nationally the Government has conducted a stream of consultations over the past 5 years but has failed to put any practical measures in place. Basingstoke has seen a problem and acted to help ensure families who already have to cope with their children's condition get the support they need. The surgery and aftercare involved hip dysplasia cases, leave children in body casts for weeks on end, with their legs at 90 degree angles. This makes it difficult for these children to get out and to try and carry on normal daily life during their treatment period. Action taken by Basingstoke Council will make a real difference to these children's lives."
The Government has now said that national rules government Blue Badges will change to include children with hip dysplasia under the age of two. Maria will continue to ask for the Government to also support children over the age of two.
Speaking after the Transport Minister made the announcement Maria said, “I very much welcome these long overdue changes to the rules governing Blue Badges. Parents up and down the country have suffered needless hardship by being excluded from the Blue Badge scheme. This small change in the rules will be a significant help to families with very young disabled children, including those with hip dysplasia”.
“The campaign was started by two mothers in my Basingstoke constituency, both of whom had children with hip dysplasia. I applaud the work of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council who acted quickly when the problem was brought to their attention and put in place their own scheme to support these families.
“Last year I was able to present a petition with 1600 signatories to the Department of Transport and gained the support from all political parties for Early Day Motion 413 calling for the change in the Blue Badge rules that have been announced today. Whilst I welcome the Ministers announcement, these changes were first called for in 1999 by the Governments own ‘Dept of transport advisory committee’. It should not take the Government eight years to act on such important recommendations”.
Maria said, “Basingstoke and Deane are already ahead of the game and have asked the Council’s Environment Committee to look at a local parking scheme to support families of children with hip dysplasia. I have asked the Local Government Association whether under the Disability Discrimination Act local authorities have a legal obligation to allow these families to use local authority controlled disabled parking bays. These families already have a great deal to contend with and are at risk of being stranded and isolated in their homes if appropriate parking is not available”.
Maria was contacted by two mothers from Basingstoke whose children suffer from hip-dysplasia but are note eligible for a blue badge under the current rules.
Hip-dysplasia requires children to undergo surgery and to be placed in a hip spica cast in a frog position with a bar in between their legs, which is bulky, heavy and difficult to carry around. For each leg children will typically spend around 18 weeks in cast. This means that they will be completely immobile for around 8 months and more time afterwards where they will need to learn to walk again
During the debate in the House of Commons Maria called on the Government to take action as promised by the Government after a review of the Blue Badge Scheme by the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) in 1999. The Government accepted (2002) that the scheme should be changed to include children under two and those with temporary mobility impairments which severely affects their walking ability for at least 12 months. However no action has been taken four years on.
Maria said “The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee recommended in 1999 that the rules should be changed. The Government accepted in 2002 that the rules should be changed. We should have seen some change before now, but no: four years on, and we have had no change in the rules.
Yet more consultation is spoken of, but that is not good enough for children, who are suffering as a result of the Government's inaction. I draw that case to the Committee's attention in the hope that it may be given consideration. I invite the Minister to fill me with joy by telling me that she will bring forward those much-needed regulations in the near future.”
Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Jeremy Hunt MP, and Shadow Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond MP, joined Maria at a meeting in the House of Commons on 9 January to discuss listen to a number of parents with disabled children explain their specific problems. Both Shadow Ministers have pledged to fight to ensure that disabled children under the age of 2 are eligible for a blue badges and will be pressing the relevant Government Ministers to bring forward the required regulations.
This campaign is also supported by STEPS, a national charity that campaigns for children with lower limb conditions. Sue Banton, the founder and director of Steps has stated:
“We are pleased with this initiative to change the Blue Badge regulation and are delighted that MPs are listening to parents’ needs. Extending the eligibility for blue badges could help hundreds of parents who are caring for children who may be disabled, albeit temporarily.”
“The Government clearly agree with us that there is a need to change the rules regarding Blue Badges which currently exclude under two’s and those with severe mobility impairment lasting under three years. But they are continually dragging their feet instead of actually putting these much needed changes in place.
STEPS, a national charity that campaigns for children with lower limb conditions, has also lent its support to Maria’s campaign. Sue Banton, founder and director of STEPS, said: “We are pleased with this initiative to change the Blue Badge regulations and are delighted that MPs are listening to parents' needs.
“Extending the eligibility for Blue Badges could help hundreds of parents who are caring for children who may be severely disabled, albeit temporarily.”