Bedford drivers in court three times for Blue Badge abuse

Local Government Association say fraudsters are robbing disabled people of their independence

Bedford drivers ended up in court three times last year for allegedly abusing the Blue Badge parking scheme, figures reveal.

The Local Government Association said fraudsters using Blue Badges illegally are robbing disabled people of their independence.

Department for Transport data shows there were three prosecutions for misuse of the Blue Badge scheme in Bedford in 2019-20 – one more than the previous year.

Bedford drivers ended up in court three times last year for abusing the Blue Badge parking scheme

All of them targeted a non-badge holder.

Blue Badges are issued by councils to people with disabilities and allow them to park closer to their destination.

Some people qualify for a badge automatically, while others have to be periodically re-assessed.

The scheme was recently extended to include those with learning disabilities, mental health conditions and other hidden impairments.

Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK, said: "The Blue Badge scheme is absolutely vital to enabling disabled people to get out and about.

"We would like to see all local authorities take active steps to protect blue badge parking spaces for disabled people, with zero tolerance for people who abuse the scheme or those who unlawfully park in blue badge spaces."

David Renard, transport spokesman for the LGA, said councils are cracking down on the growing crime despite limited resources.

He said: "Many Blue Badge fraudsters are being brought to justice by councils who will come down hard on drivers illegally using them."

He added that people should tip off the council if they suspect someone is abusing the scheme.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: "Abusing a Blue Badge is a serious offence and councils must take it seriously.

"Local authority traffic wardens have to cover lots of ground by observing urban centres, rural car parks as well as monitoring residential parking zones.

"Due to the reduced number of wardens, abusers feel they have a high chance of getting away with it."