Wiganers urged to shop blue badge fraudsters

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Residents have been urged to “tip off” the town hall if they suspect fraudsters are taking advantage of the disabled parking badge system.

Local authority bosses recently revealed action was taken in 120 cases across the borough between April and September of this year.

National statistics, released this week, show 896 motorists were prosecuted for blue badge misuse in the last financial year.

The vast majority of those came from three authorities; Leeds (215), Hammersmith and Fulham (146) and Newcastle (88). Wigan Council had no prosecutions in the last financial year but a spokesman said recent cases could result in court action which would be included in next year’s data.

Of the 120 cases since April in Wigan, a total of 112 warning letters were issued and 86 blue badges were either destroyed and taken out of circulation.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association insisted that councils are working hard to “crack down on this crime” despite limited resources. He added: “To help councils win the fight against blue badge fraud, residents must keep tipping us off about people they suspect are illegally using a badge, bearing in mind people’s need for a badge might not always be obvious.”

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “Blue badge abuse makes many drivers see red. Those acting fraudulently are insulting those people who really need the badges and bring the whole system into disrepute. Anyone caught cheating should know they face penalties whether they live in Slough, Swindon or Sheffield.”

A council led enforcement day in June saw 10 spot checks conducted in the borough which led to one expired badge being confiscated. Another warning letter was issued when it was found the blue badge was being used illegally by the owner’s husband, according to a recent town hall audit report.

Coun Paul Kenny, the cabinet member for resources at Wigan Council, said: “The misuse of blue badges is not only illegal, but a selfish act which abuses a system there to help disabled people in our communities.

“People who are currently misusing the blue badges throughout the borough need to be aware that they are risking being taken to court and receiving a heavy fine.”

Wigan Council has created an online reporting tool for people to report Blue Badge abuse via their website: www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Parking-Roads-Travel/Parking/Blue-Badge-permit/Report-Blue-Badge-fraud.aspx