Andrew Heath Wyatt, 54, from Hemingfield, pleaded guilty to fraudulently using a Blue Badge at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court last Monday, after the court was told he’d altered his father’s badge to make it appear valid and in-date.
Wyatt was ordered to pay costs totalling £1,191.55, comprising a £500 fine, additional costs of £641.55 and victim surcharge of £50.
Emma Louise Moss, 35, from Royston, also pleaded guilty to using her disabled daughter’s Blue Badge when she wasn’t present, and was fined £146, with additional costs of £100 and a £32 victim surcharge.
Coun Alan Gardiner, himself a Blue Badge holder, said the prosecutions sent a ‘clear message’ to those thinking about misusing the scheme.
Coun Gardiner said: “The majority of Blue Badge holders use their badges legitimately, but a minority misuse them for their own benefit. This means that there are fewer disabled parking bays available for those who really need them.
“These prosecutions send a clear message to people of the consequences for misusing a Blue Badge. It’s a criminal offence which could result in a fine of £1,000 and confiscation of the badge.
“Our enforcement team will continue to combat fraud and where appropriate, will prosecute.”
Barnsley is one of 100 upper tier local authorities that has developed a policy for abuse, namely theft or inappropriate misuse, of the Blue Badge system.
However, in 2019 the council didn’t prosecute anyone for such offences, while the number of prosecutions made throughout the country has increased year-on-year - with the 1,432 reported last year an increase of almost a fifth on the previous year’s 1,215, and up from 1,131 in 2016/17.
According to Department for Transport data, Sheffield prosecuted nine people for Blue Badge abuses, and in Rotherham 12 people faced charges in 2019.
An overwhelming majority of cases are made against non-badge holders using someone else’s badge, and can lead to fines up to £1,000 and the seizing of the badge.
There are 16,000 people eligible for a Blue Badge in Barnsley, which allows them to park in disabled bays closer to their destination if they have a disability or health condition that affects their mobility.
In August, eligibility for the benefit was extended to those with ‘hidden’ disabilities - such as autism, epilepsy or anxiety disorders - that may not be obvious but may still cause that person, or their parent or carer, difficulty or distress when travelling.
Across 2019, there were 7,850 people in Barnsley who were issued a Blue Badge - just under half of the total eligible population automatically entitled to the benefit. There were also 4,279 badges issued subject to further assessment, and 17 were given to businesses.