Ashford found to have most cases of blue badge misuse during 48-hour Kent-wide crackdown
The number of people misusing blue badges for parking has risen, with Ashford top of the table for abuse of the system.
Kent County Council’s (KCC) audit and governance committee met yesterday and was told there had been 103 reports of misuse of the parking scheme for disabled people between April 1 and June 30 this year.
That compared to 63 reports of misuse of the badges over the same period in 2020 – a 68% increase.
James Flannery, KCC’s counter fraud manager who heads up a team of five full-time employees, said improvements were being made to the county-run service to tackle the issue, including more enforcement.
His comments were made yesterday at the meeting at County Hall, Maidstone.
Following the full lifting of lockdown restrictions in August, two enforcement days were carried out to detect the scale of blue badge offences across Kent’s 12 districts, excluding Medway.
Ashford Borough Council was found to have the highest number of cases, with 10 blue badge offences over a 48-hour period.
This was followed by Gravesham (four), Maidstone (two), Dover (two) and Dartford (one).
No offences were found in Canterbury, Folkestone and Hythe, Swale, Sevenoaks, Thanet, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
Folkestone West county councillor Dylan Jeffrey (Con) called for more action from the ruling parties of Kent district and borough councils.
He said: “Either a number of local authorities have very law-abiding citizens or they are just not being captured by district and borough councils. It concerns me there are a number of zeros on the table.”
Out of the 103 blue badge incidents, around 19 involved the use of deceased person’s badges. These have all been cancelled.
‘We continue to engage with parking managers across the county to encourage them to take enforcement action.’
One offender received a fine of nearly £1,000, including court costs.
A KCC report said this was a “costly experience to avoid paying the £2.30 per hour parking charge”.
Malling county councillor Harry Rayner (Con) called for clarity on the level of improvement made by the team to stop the crime.
In response, Mr Flannery said further enforcement days were likely to take place in March next year.
“We continue to engage with parking managers across the county to encourage them to take enforcement action,” he added.
“We intend to create a training video for enforcement officers, particularly with the turnover of staff in that area.”