Council tackles Blue Badge fraud in Leighton Buzzard
10 October 2018
Three people were convicted yesterday (9 October) at Luton Magistrates' Court for wrongful use of disabled Blue Badges in Leighton Buzzard.
On 14 June 2018, council officers took part in an enforcement exercise to ensure that Blue Badge disabled parking permits were being correctly used in Central Bedfordshire. During this exercise, council officers checked 124 Blue Badges. Out of these, they discovered vehicles in Leighton Buzzard where the eligible badge holder wasn't present, so further action was taken.
The first case involved Lindsey Buckwell, of Fensome Drive in Houghton Regis. She was spotted by an officer using a Blue Badge. When the officer approached her, she said the Blue Badge belonged to her aunt and that she had been due to pick her up, but that plans had changed.
Ms Buckwell then drove off when the officer attempted to discuss the situation with her. Fraud officers subsequently established that the Blue Badge she had been using had been reported as lost two years earlier, and so did not belong to either Ms Buckwell or her aunt. When formally interviewed, Ms Buckwell admitted that she had lied and that she had found the Blue Badge and decided to use it for herself.
Ms Buckwell pleaded guilty by post to an offence of displaying a Blue Badge that should have been returned to the council. She was sentenced to pay a fine of £666, a victim surcharge of £66 and £481 costs, with overall fines totalling £1,213.
The second case involved Bernard Leney, of The Wharf in Leighton Buzzard. He was caught in the local West Street Multi-Story Car Park using his wife's Blue Badge when she was not present. Mr Leney pleaded guilty by post to the offence of misuse of a Blue Badge parking permit. He was sentenced to pay a fine of £80, a victim surcharge of £30 and £150 costs, so overall fines totalled £260.
The third case heard today involved Thomas Thompson, of Newton Leys in Milton Keynes. Mr Thompson was caught in Lake Street Car Park, Leighton Buzzard. When approached he said he had dropped off his wife, the Blue Badge holder, at a shop. Fraud officers subsequently established that his wife was not in Leighton Buzzard that day. Mr Thompson pleaded guilty by post to one offence of misuse of a Blue Badge parking permit. He was sentenced to pay a fine of £293, a victim surcharge of £30 and £481 costs, coming to a total of £804.
Councillor Richard Wenham, Deputy Council Leader and Executive Member for Corporate Resources at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “People who illegally park in spaces reserved for Blue Badge holders are thoughtlessly taking spaces away from those with mobility problems and other disabilities who genuinely need them.
“Blue badges are issued to people in our community who need them the most. They allow a disabled person to park closer to their destination and must only be used by another person if the badge holder is present and being dropped off or collected.
“We will be directing further effort to clamp down on this type of fraud in the future. The rules around Blue Badge use are very clear. If we catch people using them fraudulently then we will take action."
If you suspect someone of illegally using a blue badge, report it to the council by calling 0300 300 8035 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.