Shameless drivers who misuse "blue badges" for people with disabilities will be tracked down.
Shameless drivers who misuse "blue badges" for people with disabilities will be tracked down and punished in Brighton and Hove.
The city council has won £183,000 of government funding to help enforce laws aimed at ensuring there are enough spaces for those who genuinely need them.
The Audit Commission, the government financial watchdog, estimates one in five blue badges are abused.
According to the latest council data, there are about 13,000 blue badges in Brighton and Hove. That means at least 2,600 could be used fraudulently.
With many fraudsters - anecdotally, at least - using 4x4s and high-value vehicles, a council spokesperson said no data was collected about the make or model of car used by blue-badge-holders. She said: “This is because the blue badge does not include the vehicle registration.”
The abuse of blue badge is particularly shocking, because there are only 668 parking bays for use exclusively by people with disabilities. In addition to these, blue-badge-holders can - as the criminals know - park in pay-and-display bays or for up to three hours in double yellow lines
Blue badges are available for those who are “unable to walk or have very considerable difficulty in walking” and those who receive benefits because of lack of mobility. The split between the two categories is about equal.
The most recent council parking report reveals 79 people were found to be using badges belonging to dead people.
The council will now be the first in the country to offer offenders the option of a community resolution order - which would highlight the effects of depriving disabled people of parking spaces in a video - together with a financial penalty (instead of them receiving a criminal record).
Working with Sussex Police and East Sussex County Council, the funding will also be used to help track down people who are misusing the badges.
The two councils are both providing additional funding of £30,000.
Councillor Ian Davey, lead member for transport, said: “Disabled people rely on blue badges to access all the facilities and leisure activities the rest of us take for granted. It is essential they are able to park close to where they want to go, so this funding will help us tackle misuse of blue badges much more effectively.”
Funding provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government will fund two blue badge fraud investigation officers operating across East Sussex and Brighton and Hove.