Crackdown set to target blue badge abusers

Disability rights campaigners have welcomed plans to appoint a dedicated officer in a bid to clamp down on blue badge fraud across Norfolk.

The role is being funded by the county’s Parking Partnership in a bid to respond to concerns about the potential misuse of the facilities.

And the move has been supported by Jonathan Toye, of the West Norfolk Disability information Service, who believes more should be done to tackle the problem.

He said: “Blue badges are a vital resource for someone whose mobility is limited. They allow a disabled person to park as near as possible to their destination.

“Misuse by people who do not require this help makes life harder for disabled people. Far too often the parking bays set aside for Blue badge holders are misused.

“It’s important that supermarkets and the like police these bays properly.”

Officials say that councils across the county are aware of regular misuse of the badges, which entitle legitimate users to park in disabled-only spaces or on double yellow lines.

They claim the issue is particularly serious in coastal resorts, with shop owners and workers using them to allow easy access to their premises.

County councillor Mick Castle, who chairs the Norfolk Parking Partnership Joint Committee, said: “Additional enforcement is clearly needed.

“Norfolk County Council provides disabled bays in town centres as near to amenities as possible so that people with genuine needs can park as close as possible.

“Blue badge holders can also park without restriction in any other parking bay and or up to three hours on double yellow lines.

“When people park in these locations fraudulently they are preventing people with genuine needs from accessing services.”

Dave Stephens, the county council’s network management team manager, added: “It will be an important role to help ensure effective operation of the highway network.”

As well as using a badge that does not belong to them, misuse of the badge also includes the use of faked or copied badges, as well as ones that have expired or been defaced.

Drivers caught flouting the rules could be fined up to £1,000.

Misuse of a blue badge can be reporting by phoning 0344 8008020 or emailing information@norfolk.gov.uk.