Crackdown on Blue Badge abusers
Blue Badge abusers beware! You could be about to have your collar felt by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Corporate Fraud team.
Members of the team will be spearheading a day-long operation in the town later this month in a bid to raise awareness of the growing problem of Blue Badge misuse.
Together with Essex Police and the Council’s parking contractors APCOA, members of the team will be carrying out spot checks on motorists using the badges.
Anyone found to be misusing a badge or displaying a forged one could be liable for a substantial fine and a criminal record in addition to an on-the-spot penalty.
The National Fraud Authority estimates that abuse of the current Blue Badge system costs British taxpayers a staggering £46million-a-year.
Fraudulent use and forgery of badges has become so widespread that the Government is taking over the responsibility for issuing them from local authorities.
Councils will continue to process applications but in future all new badges will be issued centrally by the newly created Blue Badge Improvement Service.
As well as reducing fraud the BBIS aims to provide increased accessibility and better customer service.
It will also help councils cope with the extra cost of meeting the estimated 27 per cent increase in demand for badges over the next decade caused by Britain’s ageing population.
The new system has forced Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to introduce a £10 charge for each successful new badge application from the New Year.
The new charge will generate £30,000 towards the estimated £82,000 annual cost of signing up to the mandatory scheme, but the Council will have to bridge the financial gap.
Only people who are successful in applying for the new badges, which will be valid for three years, will have to pay the charge.
Anyone in possession of a badge they no longer need or are not entitled to should hand it in or post it to the Civic Centre in Victoria Avenue.
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