Three people who misused Blue Badges to park illegally in disabled bays have been ordered to pay out a total of £600.
Leanne Morrow, David Nielsen and Christine Lamb were all prosecuted by Durham County Council at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court this week.
Magistrates heard how one of the council’s enforcement officers was carrying out Blue Badge checks in North Road in Durham City on 20 March this year when he observed a vehicle attempting to park in a disabled parking bay at 11.05am.
Due to other vehicles in the area, the driver was only able to fit one third of the vehicle in the bay, with the remainder parked in the neighbouring loading bay
The driver, Morrow, of William Place, Gilesgate, displayed a Blue Badge and clock on the dashboard. When questioned by the officer, the 35-year-old said it was her daughter’s badge, who she was waiting to pick up. At 11.11am, the vehicle pulled out of the bay and a man got into the car. He was not accompanied by a child and it was later confirmed the girl had been in school all day.
Morrow did not attend court and the case was proved in her absence. She was fined £220 and ordered to pay costs of £130 and a £30 victim surcharge.
Nielsen, of Yorkshire Place, Bishop Auckland, was caught misusing a Blue Badge in his hometown on 18 April.
The court heard the enforcement officer had approached him after he parked in a disabled bay in Newgate Street. When asked about the Blue Badge he was displaying, Nielsen said it belonged to his wife who was in bed and unaware he was using it. The court heard Nielsen had planned to park in the bay for a few minutes while he collected an urgent prescription for his wife who was unwell.
The 70-year-old attended court and pleaded guilty to using a disabled badge for parking when not authorised to do so. Magistrates imposed a six-month conditional discharge and ordered Nielsen to pay £50 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Lamb, of Copeland Road, West Auckland, pleaded guilty to the same offence. The 57-year-old was approached by an enforcement officer on 18 April in Bishop Auckland Market Place after she returned to a vehicle parked in a disabled bay.
Lamb, who got into the passenger seat, and the female driver were both questioned about the Blue Badge on display in the vehicle. Lamb accepted responsibility for placing the badge on the dashboard and the two women claimed they were running errands for the badge holder.
The officer telephoned the badge holder who confirmed she had not left the house that day. The council’s corporate fraud team later visited the woman who explained that her carer had been looking after the badge. Her son was present at the time and said he would ensure his mother retrieved the badge and kept it in her possession.
Magistrates heard Lamb had been on crutches at the time of the offence. Magistrates fined her £40 and ordered her to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £80 costs.
Paul Bradley, chief internal auditor and corporate fraud manager at Durham County Council, said: “These successful prosecutions send a clear message that we will not tolerate Blue Badge misuse in County Durham. Accessible parking bays are absolutely vital to people with disabilities who rely on them to visit local shops and amenities. We would urge members of the public to get in touch if they’re aware of anyone misusing a Blue Badge and help us to tackle this issue.”
To report Blue Badge misuse, contact 03000 269 425 visit www.durham.gov.uk/bluebadgemisuse