Police crack down on blue badge misuseBy Victoria Smith
May 08, 2012
A blue badge was seized from a driver caught using it without the disabled holder during a crackdown on the parking scheme.
Police and Wokingham Borough Council checked more than 120 badges and advised drivers on when and how they should be using disabled parking badges and bays.
David Gaskin (pictured), former chairman of Wokingham Area Access Group (WAAG), said more regular action needed to be taken by the council and police as there is regular abuse of blue badges.
Mr Gaskin, 65, who has multiple health issues affecting his mobility, said: “I know people who have died and their family has carried on using their relative’s blue badge because they have not contacted the department to inform them of the death.
“I find it rather disturbing.
“There is abuse of blue badges, but there is a simple solution. Police can have a scanner that they use to scan a chip on the blue badge and that shows the name and disability of the holder and a picture, so they can check it is being used properly.
“I have written to the police about this, but they are not doing enough. The police say they are too busy trying to catch people doing far worse, but to the person trying to park to get to a doctor’s appointment it is important. If they can’t find a space because people are misusing the disabled bays it is a matter of life and death to them.”
During the crackdown event on Friday, April 13, the council and police visited Woodley to make sure blue badges were being used correctly.
Blue badge fraud is an increasing problem across the country, costing an estimated £46 million a year, and has led to new eligibility and enforcement powers to combat their misuse.
The cost of blue badges rose by 400 per cent to £10 in January to cover the cost of the new security measures.
Muir Laurie, the council’s director of business assurance and democratic services, said: “This initiative was extremely well received by the public and the team will be conducting further similar operations throughout the borough.
“The most common misuse was disabled parking bays being used when the blue badge holder was staying in the vehicle.
“Disabled parking bays are to enable the person holding the blue badge to have easier access to local businesses and community amenities; it is not free parking for their families.
“In these cases, the usual pay and display parking facilities should be used to allow disabled parking bays to be available for other badge holders.”
Anyone concerned about the misuse of a disabled blue badge can report them in confidence to the whistleblowing hotline on (0118) 974 6550 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org