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Busting blue badge abuse

The specialist investigation team that Waltham Forest Council launched 18 months ago to tackle blue badge fraud has reported a year end figure of 144 badges removed in 2013/14 – making a total of 209 removals since the scheme began in October 2012.

“It’s another sign that we’re making terrific progress in combating the problem of blue badge abuse,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.

“People who use fake, lost or stolen badges or take advantage of someone else's blue badge are essentially discriminating against disabled people. They are stealing their much needed parking spaces that allow them to park close to shops and services.

“Frankly I find their actions despicable and struggle to understand the mind-set of anyone who thinks it is OK to take advantage of people with disabilities. It is beyond the understanding of all right-minded people.”

In addition to removing badges, 51 cases have been progressed to prosecution and 11 people have been arrested. In a recent case that progressed to court, not only was the individual fined, but he received a six month driving ban.

“We have come across lots of people using their relative’s badges and even discovered people using badges belonging to family members who have died,” said Cllr Loakes.

“We even came across one incident recently where someone had a fake badge made using a cereal box! What I think anyone considering this sort of thing needs to understand is that essentially you’re committing fraud.

“What you also need to consider is the fact we have our team out and about with the police taking real action to stop you. You are liable for a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal conviction.”

The Council is also sending out an appeal to respect the rights of disabled motorists with regard to advisory disabled bays. These are not blue badge spaces where you must have your badge on display, but simply spaces set aside for disabled motorists, often in residential areas.

However, because they are only advisory, inconsiderate motorists who are not disabled that use the bays cannot be prosecuted or sanctioned in the same ways as described above. The Council is asking that people have consideration for their disabled neighbours and think about how much more difficult it will be for them to park far from their house if they cannot access a disabled spot.

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For out of hours please email media@walthamforest.gov.uk or call 07966 915 157.