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Friday, 16 March 2012

Bureaucracy

After the Monk's recent international wrangles regarding his identity, I thought I would share the newly tightened system for application for my wife's "Blue Badge" disabled parking entitlement.  Now I believe that the system was "improved" to prevent fraudulent abuse; in my experience it is always the big slob who would abandon his vehicle outside the doorway of the shop if it were on the main road, but insists on parking across three disabled bays outside the supermarket, in fact, Homer J Simpson personified.  No amount of rule enforcement will persuade this carachter to follow the rules.  Rather like the changes in hand-gun law in the 1990s that deprived sporting shooters of their sport but only served to increase the possession of illegal firearms; this poor idea is no doubt currently troubling the Olympic committees who are using military premises for the shooting competitions.

Let us see:
I need proof of address; fine, you actually sent me the reminder notice to my address, and I am now responding to it, so it is highly probable that I live here, however, proof beyond reasonable doubt is  required.  Utility bill, well, there are many in my name, but none in  my wife's... bank statement; internet paperless banking... rent book; we own the house... pension; I'm a cradle snatcher, it will be nearly 20 years before that happens... Why not a letter from the various benefits agencies dealing with the disability that entitles me to the Blue Badge in the first place, in fact, why not the letter you sent to me?

Ah!  I need proof of identity... Having already fillied in a section that required my National Insurance Number, a unique identifier (take note all of you ID card gain-sayers.) plus my driving licence number, not only a unique identifier but also containing my date of birth, how much more do you need?  Ah!  My Driving licence; (Plastic and counterpart paper, but copies will do, so I could doctor them as I have a high quality scanner and am a dab hand with the GIMP [photoshop for techies!] How do you think I got my Bachelor of Fluencing parchment?) fine, no problem, by the way, it is a criminal offence not to inform DVLA of any change of address, so could I use that for my address?  No!  Well OK, ah, my certificate of entitlement to disability living allowance, well, fine, but they don't send out annual reminders unless prompted, The entitlement goes back several years, so the original is out of date, but it does have the address on it! (to be fair, the Government department, on phoning were only too happy to send out an update, apparently National Government offices such as DWP are much more streamlined that County Councils who issue parking permits.)

Now, I need proof of entitlement, Aha, we've got two in one there, the letter of entitlement, why couldn't I get a "two-for-one" from my Driving licence?  Are we beginning to see a pattern here?  A fee is charged, not too much of a problem, £10 as a handling charge is not unreasonable, however, what will they do next time when cheques have been phased out?  Ah! the Postal Order, well it might keep Post Office Counters in business I suppose.  Pity they don't have a decent website...

Now none of this should surprise me one bit, however, what is galling is that this is a renewal, the form sent to my address which has not changed.  I think the Blue Badge itself, which after all of this also requires a photograph, should actually be an EU passport, the requirements are certainly strict enough and since they changed from Orange to Blue, they are indeed an EU document.  So why then are they issued in such an innefficient manner by County Councils?  Probably because ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶R̶t̶ ̶H̶o̶n̶  Two Jags Prescott failed in his regionalisation endeavours.  Oh, for the days of joined-up thinking.

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