The Blue Badge scheme is a European wide arrangement that provides parking concessions for people with severe walking difficulties when they travel by road. It allows badge holders to park close to their destination, and to park for free on the street. Newcastle City Council also lets badge holders park for free in all of its car parks.
National press coverage in November 2016 highlighted that Newcastle City Council were the Authority with the third highest number of prosecutions for blue badge misuse, where badges have been misused by non-disabled people using the badge when the badge holder is not in the vehicle. Badges have also been forged and sold to avoid parking charges. This undermines public confidence in the scheme and it is a criminal offence, which can lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
Newcastle City Council is committed to protecting the Blue Badge scheme and genuine users. Councillor Anita Lower said:
"The abuse of blue badges is of great concern, especially where it has been discovered that people are making illegal copies of badges and selling them for prices up to £1000 each.
Each permit used this way could be costing the council up to £5,000 in lost parking revenue every year - money which is re-invested in improving parking services, for example by enhancing the feeling of safety and security through the addition of CCTV, help points and improved lighting. However, the most worrying aspect is that the people who legitimately need access to disabled parking spaces are being cheated out of them by these selfish and thoughtless people.
We take these offences very seriously and will continue to be vigilant in making our checks with a view to stamping out these practices. All of our parking control officers have been asked to keep a special look-out for instances of abuse and where cases come to light, we will not hesitate to take legal action."
Craig Mordue, Head of Parking Services said:
"It is within our powers to take both the badge holder and offending driver to court, but we are aware that in many cases the actual badge holder is not even aware of the abuse that is taking place."
We are taking action to prevent the misuse of the scheme:
Enforcement Officers have been trained to spot bogus badges.
Areas known to have high levels of abuse are being targeted in special operations.
Newcastle parking Services present cases to Court on a regular basis with successful prosecutions for Blue Badge misuse. The punishments handed out by the Court for cases of misuse in Newcastle have included fines of up to £500, plus costs and a victim surcharge. In 2015/16 Newcastle Parking Services made 88 prosecutions for blue badge misuse.
If you suspect that a blue badge is being misused, please play your part in this important campaign. A special hotline - 0191 277 2441 - has been established for anonymous notification of blue badge misuse - all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Abuse and fraudulent use of Blue Badges undermines public confidence in the scheme and means that fewer spaces are available for those using their valid Badges correctly. New powers issued by the Department for Transport now allow Enforcement Officers to inspect a Blue Badge on display. This is to help ensure that Blue Badges are only being used by those that are entitled to do so and that the badge is being used properly.
On 8 October 2013 new legislation was introduced that allows Civil Enforcement Officers to seize a badge that is invalid or is being misused. View further details of this legislation on the Gov.uk website.