To get free parking in Southfields
The director of a care home for the elderly used her dead mother’s disabled parking badge to get free parking a court has heard.
Magistrates were told that Andree Kerr had been caught using her deceased parent’s blue badge to park in Merton Road, Southfields, on three separate occasions.
The 60-year-old company director from Somerset Road in Wimbledon admitted three offences and was fined a total of £1,317 and ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of £618.
Abuse of the blue badge system is reported to be widespread in London and in other big cities as the permits allow holders to park virtually anywhere they like free of charge. However the badges can only be used lawfully if the disabled person is either driving the vehicle or being carried as a passenger and being dropped-off or picked-up at that location.
Since the council’s fraud team began to investigate actively misuse of the scheme, nearly 600 dishonest drivers have been brought before the courts where they have been convicted of more than 2,300 separate offences. This has led to £720,000 being returned to the public purse in fines and court costs.
Also appearing in court recently was van driver Saheer Ponnambathayil, aged 30, from Smallwood Road in Tooting.
He was caught using his disabled wife’s badge to park all day free of charge outside the Chatfield Road medical centre in Battersea. In doing so he deprived genuinely disabled people needing to visit the surgery of a parking space, meaning they had to park elsewhere and walk longer distances before seeing their doctor.
After his vehicle was impounded he tried to evade justice by fraudulently claiming in writing that he had been driving his wife to visit friends in Chatfield Road. However in court he pleaded guilty to six charges, including fraud, and was ordered to pay £2,932 in fines and court costs. This was in addition to the £265 he’d had to pay to release his car after it was seized.
The council’s transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Sadly there are lots of people who try to fiddle the system in this way. The blue badge scheme exists to help disabled people get out and about, drive to work, visit friends or go shopping. It was not invented to give their relatives a passport to free parking.
“Instead many disabled people are left confined to their homes and unable to go out because their sons and daughters and grandchildren have taken their badges. This is a form of cruelty and abuse and the reason why there will be no let up in our efforts to catch, identify and prosecute those people who commit these offences.”
Anyone with information about blue badge misuse can contact the council's team of investigators by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (020) 8871 6547/7916.
January 5, 2015