The purpose of the day was to combat the incorrect and fraudulent use of the disability parking scheme. Throughout the day Thanet’s Civil Enforcement Officers were trained on how to inspect Blue Badges and instructed on the importance of establishing whether badges were being used in accordance with the scheme.
In total 62 people had badges inspected and the majority were being used in accordance with the scheme. However, two people were found to be abusing the scheme, prompting an investigation by KCC’s Counter Fraud Team which could result in enforcement action and the possible cancellation of the badge.
Since the eligibility criteria was changed, to include people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as dementia, autism and a number of mental health conditions, the number of Blue Badges in Kent has increased. It is therefore paramount that available parking spaces are used for legitimate purposes.
James Flannery, KCC’s Counter Fraud Manager, said: “The Blue Badge scheme is there to support vulnerable people in maintaining independence and access to services. Abusing the scheme by using badges not belonging to you, deceased people’s badges and stolen badges for personal gain is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Penny Button, Director of Neighbourhoods at Thanet District Council, said: “The Blue Badge scheme is vitally important for our disabled residents and visitors, enabling them to access everything that Thanet has to offer. Enforcement activity ensures that the scheme benefits people who are genuinely eligible, and this training means that our Enforcement Officers are fully equipped to check that Blue Badges are being used correctly.”
Blue Badge holders spoken to throughout the day welcomed the initiative and gave positive feedback about the need for badges to be used appropriately. Comments included: “I’m glad you’re checking them – there’s so much Blue Badge fraud happening in Thanet you don’t even realise.”; and “Thank you for doing this – it’s good to see the council is doing something about it.”
The Blue Badge scheme is an important service for people with disabilities or health conditions that enables badge holders to park close to where they need to go.
While most Blue Badge holders respect the rules of their use, Kent County Council along with Thanet District Council will not tolerate the abuse of the system by the minority who take advantage of the scheme.
If you suspect misuse of a Blue Badge, please visit www.kent.gov.uk/reportfraud and search ‘Blue Badge’.