MOTORISTS handed over more than 30 illegally held Blue Badges during a two week amnesty in East Sussex.
Motorists fraudulently using the permits to park in disabled bays and dodge parking charges were invited by East Sussex County Council to hand them in and avoid prosecution.
A total of 36 Blue Badges were handed in at parking shops, libraries and council offices in East Sussex during the amnesty.
“While we were pleased that a number of illegal permits were handed over, we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Cllr Carl Maynard, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment (pictured).
“By continuing to use these Blue Badges, motorists are making life extremely difficult for those who have a genuine need, as well as costing the taxpayer as much as £5,000.”
Cllr Maynard added: “We gave everyone illegally using a Blue Badge the chance to avoid further action. Those who did not take advantage of this opportunity will be caught and face robust action.”
East Sussex County Council has already been part of a number of prosecutions including;
• An 80-year-old from Ringmer who continued to use his wife’s Blue Badge two years after her death. He was fined £50, ordered to pay £100 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
• A 58-year-old woman from St Leonards who was caught displaying her father’s Blue Badge more than a year after he died. She was given a community order and told to pay £150 court costs and a £60 victim surcharge
• A 51-year-old woman from Eastbourne who altered the expiry date on her mother’s Blue Badge. She was handed a nine-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge
• A 77-year-old man from Chiddingly who displayed out-of-date badge, which was no longer valid. He was fined £155, ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £20 victim surcharge
All fraudulently used permits handed in during the amnesty have been destroyed.
The amnesty was part of Operation Bluebird, a joint initiative between East Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and Sussex Police to tackle the issue of Blue Badge fraud.
Government funding of £183,000 was awarded to Operation Bluebird to pay for the recruitment of dedicated Blue Badge fraud investigation officers operating across East Sussex and Brighton & Hove to improve detection and share intelligence.
Operation Bluebird will continue over the next two years and members of the public are being encouraged to report the misuse of Blue Badges by calling 01323 464244 or emailing email@example.com
There are 24,000 Blue Badges in circulation in East Sussex. The Audit Commission estimates that nationwide 20 per cent of Blue Badges are misused.
Blue Badges are issued to be used only by the named motorist or passenger with a disability. People who qualify can use disabled parking bays and benefit from a range of on-street parking concessions. To find out more about Blue Badges and how to apply visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk
Each illegally used Blue Badge costs the taxpayer an estimated £5,000 due to the need to install additional disabled parking bays and cover the cost of lost revenue from parking charges.