Fraudulently using a blue badge? Hand it over during amnesty

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Motorists illegally using blue badges to park in disabled bays and avoid parking charges are being given the opportunity to hand over the permits.

An amnesty for blue badges being fraudulently used in East Sussex starts on Monday (June 8), giving drivers a chance to escape further action.

The amnesty follows a recent crackdown on the illegal use of blue badges and is part of Operation Bluebird, a joint initiative between East Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and Sussex Police to tackle the issue.

Anyone fraudulently using a blue badge can hand the permit over at a number of locations across East Sussex between Monday, June 8, and Monday, June 22.

These include Bexhill Library, Hastings Library, Ocean House in St Leonards and the Parking Shop in Kings Road, Hastings.

There are 24,000 blue badges in circulation in East Sussex. The Audit Commission estimates, nationwide, 20 per cent of blue badges are misused.

“By using blue badges illegally, motorists are making life extremely difficult for those who have a genuine need for the permit,” said Councillor Carl Maynard, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment.“As well as the problems being caused for drivers with disabilities, the use of each fraudulent badge is costing the taxpayer as much as £5,000 – this is due to the need to install more disabled bays and lost revenue from parking charges.”

Cllr Maynard added: “I would urge those illegally using a blue badge to do the right thing and take full advantage of the amnesty.

“For those who continue to use the permit fraudulently, we will take action.”

The government has given £183,000 to Operation Bluebird and this money has enabled the recruitment of blue badge fraud investigation officers operating across East Sussex and Brighton & Hove to improve detection and share intelligence

Cllr Maynard said: “We have already seen great results from our efforts, with a number of convictions and the confiscation of Blue Badges that were being used fraudulently.

“We will continue to crackdown on those breaking the law but want to offer people the opportunity to take advantage of the amnesty, hand over permits they are not entitled to use and avoid the repercussions.”

Operation Bluebird will continue over the next two years.

Members of the public are being encouraged to report the misuse of Blue Badges by calling 01323 464244 or emailing badgefraud@eastsussex.gov.uk