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Call for Southend Council to blow the whistle on blue badge abusers
FRAUDSTERS who use disabled parking passes illegally could be snooped on by their fellow motorists.
Chiefs at Southend Council say they are willing to accept “witness statements” from members of the public as part of a crackdown on blue badge misuse.
The statements, which contain key details about incidents, will be processed by the authority and the details passed on to traffic wardens, so they can look out for potential offenders.
The statements could even be used in court to support a fraud prosecution.
Addressing a meeting of the council’s economic and environmental scrutiny committee, Andrew Lewis, corporate director for enterprise, tourism and the environment, said: “If you are witnessing incidents, then the best way to deal with it is to give us a witness statement.
“We can take it up through the parking team and investigate.”
Council chiefs launched a crackdown on blue badge abuse last year. Over the past 12 months, they have issued five warnings and one formal caution to motorists who flout the rules.
However, the council has the power to launch a court prosecution when it can conclusively prove a badge has been abused, with a maximum fine of £1,000 for anyone who is convicted.
Drivers caught using a faked or stolen badge could even face a prison sentence.
In a landmark case earlier this year, the council successfully prosecuted former midwife Sandra Parren for altering the dates on her dead mother’s badge so it could still be used – and then having the cheek to complain when a traffic warden raised suspicions.
Parren was fined £415 and ordered to pay £237 in legal costs.
Mr Lewis said: “I would stress that no one should put themselves in danger by confronting anyone they believe has acted incorrectly.
“It’s also important to say that some disabilities which warrant a blue badge are not immediately obviously.
“However, if the incidents are reported to us, we can investigate them.”