SCOTTISH rugby legend Doddie Weir is fronting a campaign to ensure people living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) have automatic access to the Blue Badge parking scheme.

The scheme was extended in 2017 to include carers and relatives of people with conditions such as dementia, autism and Down’s Syndrome, but not those with MND.

Campaigners want the Scottish Government to change the criteria for a Blue Badge to allow those who live with MND automatic access to parking spaces for people with disabilities, rather than having to go through the lengthy assessment process.

Weir said the disease was so aggressive that many people were no longer able to drive by the time they were finally given a badge.

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“Motor Neurone Disease is unpredictable,” said Weir. “It can be fiercely aggressive and a third of those who receive this terrible diagnosis die within a year and more than a half within two years of receiving this devastating news.

“I have been determined to maintain a level of independence and I want to be out and about, seeing my sons play rugby at weekends, helping with the work of My Name’s Doddie Foundation and living my life to the full. But as time goes on, like fellow sufferers of MND, this becomes more difficult.

“Not everyone has six months to wait for the Blue Badge system to kick in. Fortunately there are not too many of us in this exclusive club but I believe everyone who is diagnosed with MND should automatically be entitled to a Blue Badge. This will enable families to live a dignified and as full a life as possible while coping with this terrible disease.”

Around 230,000 people in Scotland hold a Blue Badge, allowing them to park for free and normally without time limit. Around 75% of badge holders say they would go out less often if they didn’t have one.

Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire said she is supporting the campaign after some of her constituents told her of their difficulties. She said: “Given the nature of MND, people can suddenly require extra support at short notice, and the extension of the Blue Badge Scheme would be one way in which a simple change could make a huge impact.”