Hampshire County Council has confiscated more than a quarter of Blue Badges checked during targeted enforcement action in October to tackle Blue Badge misuse and fraud in disabled parking areas.
In crackdown operations held in Winchester, Andover and Eastleigh, 28 of the 100 badges inspected were confiscated by the Council. The infringements included; people using someone else’s badge; people using a deceased person’s badge, and use of expired badges.
In addition to receiving penalty charge notices, holders also had badges confiscated and received formal warnings.
The County Council has been using new powers to target Blue Badge fraud. The Authority has also teamed-up with Portsmouth City Council’s Blue Badge enforcement team, as well as stepping up partnership working with Hampshire’s district and borough councils who have responsibility for parking enforcement in general.
In total, around 70,000 people have Blue Badges in Hampshire, and each year, the County Council issues around 22,000 to ensure that people with the most severe mobility problems continue to be supported so that they can get around more easily. The Blue Badge Scheme is a national arrangement of parking concessions for people with severe mobility difficulties, who travel either as passengers or drivers, and it allows badge holders to park close to their destination.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “It is shocking to find out the lengths to which some people will go, for just a few hours of free parking – including using a deceased person’s Blue Badge.
“This is a national problem, but as the issuing authority for Blue Badges in Hampshire, we must ensure that they are being used correctly in the county by the people who really need them, and that disabled people are not competing with drivers who might be misusing or abusing the system. We are determined to protect the quality of life for our vulnerable residents.”
Steven Hewett, Parking Investigation Officer, Portsmouth City Council said: “We’re proud of the work undertaken in the city and across the county to support the Blue Badge scheme. We will continue to pursue those that deliberately put disabled people to a disadvantage.”
Helen Dolphin, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Disabled Motoring UK, said: “I’m delighted to hear that Hampshire County Council is tackling Blue Badge abuse, so successfully. Unfortunately abuse of this scheme is seen by many as a victimless crime and many authorities just sweep it under the carpet. However, when you have a disability which means you can only walk a very short distance, being able to park close to where you need to go, is essential.
“I hope Hampshire’s excellent work continues so this scheme can return to being one which helps and improves the lives of disabled people, and not just those who are too lazy to walk that little bit further.”