A CRACKDOWN on Blue Badge cheats is being launched across Derbyshire next week.
Derbyshire County Council is launching the crackdown on Monday, April 2 and people found using a Blue Badge when they shouldn’t be could be fined up to £1,000.
Blue Badges are issued to people with severe mobility problems and a badge holder can display their badge in their car or any vehicle they are travelling in, to park closer to where they need to be, often for free.
Motorists shouldn’t use a Blue Badge if:
* It doesn’t belong to them – they must not borrow it or use it after someone has died
* The badge holder is not with the driver in the car, including when they are parking
* They no longer qualify for the badge or it is out-of-date.
There are currently 52,000 Blue Badge holders across the county and around 5,000 new applications are approved each year.
In January changes were introduced to the Blue Badge scheme as part of the Government’s national initiative called the Blue Badge Reform Programme.
The reform programme aims to improve administration of the Blue Badge scheme, making it easier to stop fraudulent production and illegal use of the badges and ensuring only genuine users benefit.
Information on all new applicants is now held on a national database and the new Blue Badge is of a higher specification, making it more difficult to copy.
The application process has also changed and people applying or re-applying for badges must now have a full assessment.
In January the county council launched a three month amnesty, urging people who had a Blue Badge they shouldn’t have to hand it in.
The amnesty ends on April 1 with the crackdown starting the next day.
Hot spots where disabled people have reported misuse of Blue Badges will be targeted and parking enforcement officers will check that the Blue Badge holder is with the car it is being displayed in.
People caught misusing the badge risk having it taken off them and the maximum fine for someone using it illegally is £1,000.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Charles Jones said: “The changes to the scheme will help to combat fraudulent use of Blue Badges in Derbyshire, across the country and abroad.
“Our three-month amnesty was an opportunity for people using Blue Badges that are not theirs, or are out-of-date or not valid for other reasons, to hand them back in to us, no questions asked.
“We’re now cracking down on Blue Badge cheats and will be checking badges closely to make sure they are being used by the people they have been issued to.
“When people use Blue Badges they are not entitled to they risk a fine of up to £1,000 and are taking up parking spaces needed by someone with genuine mobility problems who will rely on this scheme to get out and about.”
People can report Blue Badge cheats by phoning Call Derbyshire on 08456 058 058 or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org
For a reminder of the Blue Badge rules people can visit the county council’s website at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/bluebadge.