Seven people have been convicted of blue badge fraud after being caught in a crackdown in the Brighton and Hove area.
They include a building society manager, a rest home director and two bus drivers.
All seven were prosecuted by Len Batten, of Brighton and Hove City Council, at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday (15 May) – and all pleaded guilty.
- Hina Patel, 39, of Cornford Close, Portslade. Patel, a customer account manager, who works at the Nationwide, in George Street, Hove, admitted two charges and was fined £600 and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
- James Lytle, 65, of Lyndhurst Road, Hove. Lytle, who runs the Grange Rest Home, in Sackville Gardens, Hove, admitted two charges and was fined £500 and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
- Andrew Ellsey, 48, of Manor Hill, Brighton. Ellsey, a bus driver, was fined £300 and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
- Guenter Kuhn, 60, of Thornhill Rise, Portslade. Kuhn, also a bus driver, was fined £200 and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
- Laura Coppard, 44, of St John’s Court, Ship Street, Shoreham. Coppard, a hairdresser, was fined £200 and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
- Joanne Pearl, of Bear Road, Brighton. Pearl admitted two charges and was fined £333 and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
- Terrie Millar, 25, of Ventnor Villas, Hove. Millar was £55 and ordered to pay £150 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
In an eighth case the council withdrew the summons.
The council’s head of transport Mark Prior said: “These prosecutions send out a clear message that blue badge misuse is being addressed in the city.
“The blue badge scheme is intended to make sure parking spaces are available for people who genuinely need them.
“We will continue to work with Sussex Police and East Sussex County Council to crackdown on misuse of blue badges and ensure that people with disabilities can get to and enjoy everything Brighton and Hove has to offer.”
Last year Brighton and Hove City Council, Sussex Police and East Sussex County Council won £183,000 of government funding to tackle blue badge misuse and free up spaces for disabled people.
The funding is being used to help track down people who are misusing the badges which are issued to disabled people so that they can park more easily.
It is also being spent on raising awareness of how blue badges should be used and the consequences of blue badge fraud. Both councils provided additional funding of £30,000.
The council said that Brighton and Hove became the first place in the country to offer offenders the option of a community resolution order.
These are used to highlight the effects of depriving disabled people of parking spaces in a video, together with a financial penalty, instead of receiving a criminal record. More than 20 offenders have already completed resolution orders.
There are about 13,000 blue badges in Brighton and Hove and a further 24,000 in East Sussex. The Audit Commission has estimated that 20 per cent of blue badges are misused.
Funding provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has funded two blue badge fraud investigation officers operating across East Sussex and Brighton and Hove to improve detection and share intelligence.
In recent years the council has worked with Sussex Police and parking enforcement contractor NSL on Operation Bluebird.
The operation targets stolen blue badges and highlights fraud. The DCLG funding has allowed the work to continue and be extended.