Fraudsters could be cheating disabled

FRAUDSTERS could be cheating disabled people out of desperately needed town centre parking spaces, it emerged today.Disabled people are entitled to a blue badge allowing them to use special parking bays and park on double yellow lines for up to three hours, but the system is open to abuse.

FRAUDSTERS could be cheating disabled people out of desperately needed town centre parking spaces, it emerged today.

Disabled people are entitled to a blue badge allowing them to use special parking bays and park on double yellow lines for up to three hours, but the system is open to abuse.

One Evening Star reader said she was shocked after seeing two seemingly able-bodied young men jump out of a blue badged-car which was parked on double yellow lines on Lower Brook Street in Ipswich town centre.

The woman, who does not want to be named, said: “I saw the car park on a double yellow line and I saw them get out, they were about 25 to 30-years-old.

“I thought they were taking a risk by parking on the lines and then I saw the blue badge.

“But I thought to myself they didn't look disabled at all - they looked like very nimble chaps.

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“I wouldn't be surprise if it goes on quite often and I think it's an abuse.”

Lyn Eley, manager of the Ipswich and District Disabled Advice Bureau, said: “I think it is certainly true that there is fraudulent behaviour but it isn't that common, not like it is in London where blue badges get sold for around £750.

“But there are fewer and fewer parking spaces in Ipswich so if people do use them when they shouldn't it causes a big problem for disabled people.

“Even if they use a bay in a supermarket for five minutes when they shouldn't it might mean a disabled person has to go home.”

But she added: “Sometimes you might not be able to tell if someone is disabled just from watching them get out of a car.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the problem was very small in the county, and nearly all of the 31,000 blue badges in use were used legitimately.

He said only a handful of cases of people using blue badges fraudulently emerged each year but added that since September, when traffic wardens had been given new powers allowing them to ask for photos on blue badges to be shown, there had been a slight increase in the amount of investigations, with two or three since in the past two months.

And he explained that people found misusing badges would have them withdrawn and could face a £1,000 fine.

Weblink: www.suffolk.gov.uk/CareAndHealth/Disabilities/BlueBadgeScheme.htm>

People who receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance.

People who receive a War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement.

People who use a car supplied for disabled people by the government.

People who are registered blind.

People who have a severe disability in both upper limbs.

People who have a permanent and substantial disability, which means they are unable to walk or have very considerable difficulty in walking.>

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