Friday 17 June 2016

Sheffield City Council is reminding people that improper use of a blue badge can lead to a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £1,000 plus any costs awarded by the court.

Blue badge fraud is estimated to cost the country £46 million each year at 2013 levels. A significant amount of this cost is lost parking income, as blue badge users can park for free in Council parking spaces and on some yellow line parking restrictions.

It is believed fraudulent blue badge use poses a significant cost to the city as the pay and display parking areas as not being used as they should be.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure at Sheffield City Council, said: “We want Sheffield residents to be confident in their blue badge scheme and want to tackle fraudulent use head-on.

“We have always taken blue badge fraud seriously and have issued Penalty Charge Notices for improper use, but we are now taking the further step of prosecuting fraudulent use through the courts.

“Taking a tougher line also allows disabled parking bays to be used by genuine blue badge users. At the same time we are being careful not to follow up genuine cases, for example where someone has misplaced their blue badge ensuring only those acting fraudulently are prosecuted.

“If you let someone else use your blue badge, they will be prosecuted and fined and your vehicle will get a penalty charge notice too. No-one else can use your blue badge unless you are travelling with them.”

There are currently more than 24,000 Blue Badges in circulation within Sheffield – 225 of these belong to organisations and the remainder are individual badges.

Those caught fraudulently using blue badges could have them confiscated, so the number of blue badges in use could be expected to reduce.

Disability Hub Chair John Quinn said he was pleased about the efforts of the council in preventing abuse and misuse of the Blue Badge scheme.

John, who has a mobility impairment and can’t walk any distance much greater than five or ten yards, said: “What people don’t realise is that for many disabled people the Blue Badge is the one thing that can offer us greater independence and help break down some of the barriers we face during our day to day lives.

“When I go out to see a band in the city I need to park close to the venue. If drivers who don’t need a blue badge use designated spaces they are taking away my freedom and ability to take part in my community.”

Council officials are warning that blue badges must only be displayed if you are travelling in the vehicle as a driver or passenger, or if someone is collecting you or dropping you off. Otherwise, using it is fraud.

And people are being reminded not to let other people pick up your shopping or collect something on your behalf unless you are travelling with them – your blue badge is for you and no-one else.