Almost 100,000 drivers were given tickets for parking in disabled parking bays in 2017, racking up fines of £4.2m in the process.
A series of freedom of information requests to local authorities has revealed 97,138 motorists ignored warning signs and took up a space in 42,000 council-operated disabled bays last year, despite not having a Blue Badge.
A further 11,100 tickets and over £1.7m in fines were issued by councils to motorists parking in front of dropped kerbs, potentially blocking access for wheelchair users.
While the data doesn’t include penalties issued for drivers parking in disabled bays in supermarkets or private car parks, it indicates 2019’s extension of Blue Badge scheme – which will allow people with hidden disabilities such as autism and mental health conditions to apply for a badge – is likely to put further pressure on the availability of bays.
The freedom of information requests were made by price comparison website Confused.com, whose motoring editor, Amanda Stretton said misuse of disabled bays was “an issue across the UK”. Stretton urged non-disabled motorists to “do the right thing” and used standard parking spaces, leaving home earlier if they were worried about finding a space.
Disabled Blue Badge thefts soar
Previous government data revealed thefts of disabled Blue Badge parking badges skyrocketing over the last five years, with 2,921 badges stolen in the 2016/17 financial year.
That represents a 14 per cent increase over the previous financial year, and a near-fivefold rise on 2012/13, when just 656 Blue Badges were reported stolen.
The figures, released by the Department for Transport, attribute almost all (98 per cent) of thefts to drivers using someone else’s Blue Badge in order to park in disabled bays.
Londoners experienced the highest rate of Blue Badge theft, with 26 out of 1,000 badges in Islington being stolen. Holding a Blue Badge gives full exemption from the capital’s Congestion Charge, and two vehicles can be registered to each holder.
That’s in addition to badge holders being allowed to park on yellow lines for up to three hours, use dedicated disabled bays and escape parking charges on roads with parking meters.
Local councils in England took action against 1,131 motorists for Blue Badge misuse in the last financial year, up from 535 in 2013/14. Surprisingly though, 44 per cent of councils said they have no policy to prosecute those committing Blue Badge offences. There are currently around 2.4 million Blue Badge permits in the England.
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said Blue Badge thieves were “robbing disabled people of their independence”, adding: “For disabled people, blue badges are a vital lifeline that helps them get out and about to visit shops or family and friends.”
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