Council in crackdown on Blue Badge fraud in Waltham Forest

“Lazy” Waltham Forest residents have been discovered using fake Blue Badges, or even the badges of dead people, “for the sake of a convenient parking spot”.

Blue Badges (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/blue-badge-can-i-get-one/can-i-get-a-blue-badge) are intended solely for people with disabilities or health problems, who need to be able to park closer to their destination, and allows them to park for free in most places.

The council investigated more than 1,300 cars in the three months between August and October, issuing 136 fines and confiscating 64 badges.

More than 50 people were caught using a badge that had been reported lost or stolen, four people were found with a fake badge and nine people were using the badge of a dead person.

Deputy leader Cllr Clyde Loakes said: “Blue Badge fraud deprives residents in genuine need and makes life needlessly difficult for those with valid badges and their families.

“It’s sad but true that there are a minority of road users who are so lazy they would happily make other peoples’ lives difficult for the sake of a convenient parking spot.

“I’m pleased to say now that, working with our partners at BBFi, Blue Badge fraudsters in Waltham Forest will not be able to rest easy.

“Every time they leave their vehicle illegally parked… there is a good chance our team will have identified the fraud and will have begun enforcement action, which could include removal of the vehicle.

“The fraudulent use of Blue Badges causes real difficulties for residents in genuine need and we will not tolerate it in Waltham Forest.”

The council worked with BBFI Public Sector Investigations to improve their existing scheme to spot Blue Badge fraud, which has been in place for several years.

BBFI founder Paul Slowey said that, even after thousands of cases, he was still “amazed” that anyone would “pretend to be disabled to get free parking”.

He added: “This is not a victimless crime, disabled people can’t park because the bays are taken up by frauds.”

A Waltham Forest wheelchair user, who asked to remain anonymous, said the badge scheme was “vital” to them, allowing them to “get around and live independently”.

They added: “There is not enough enforcement taking place across the country and the scheme is being abused as a result which is heart-breaking for people like me.

“I congratulate the council for doing something about it and tackling the issue instead of just ignoring it. Action is what we want to see, not empty words and platitudes.

“I dread to think what it would be like if there was nothing being done to tackle this persistent problem.”

Residents are asked to report Blue Badge fraud anonymously via the council’s website (https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/how-report-fraud).

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter