Wednesday 18 May 2011

action against Blue Badge misuse in Waltham Forest: nil

The Audit Commission recently rapped Waltham Forest Council over the knuckles for turning a blind eye to various types of fraud:

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds could have been lost as a result of the council’s poor performance in tackling fraud, according to a watchdog.

No cases of fraud relating to the use of ‘blue badge’ parking permits were uncovered in 2009 and 2010, despite a neighbouring borough reporting 172 cases with a value of £86,000. The badges change hands for up to £500 on the black market.

As far as I’m aware, Waltham Forest Council has never prosecuted anyone for misuse of a blue badge, which is presumably why local streets are full of apparently able-bodied young men in BMWs displaying blue badges, along with a wide range of other probable offenders like traders who spring out of vans and lorries displaying blue badges and then proceed to carry heavy materiel.

I used the Freedom of Information Act to ask the Metropolitan Police what enforcement it had done in Waltham Forest for the past three years. I’ve now had the answer.

2008 - 38 Fixed Penalty Notices issued for mis-use of a disabled blue badge (Offence Code 600)

2009 - None

2010 – None

I think those statistics may reflect the change in Borough Commander. The current Commander apparently doesn’t believe that blue badge misuse is worth bothering with.

So for the past two years, motorists criminally misusing blue badges have been able to drive around Waltham Forest without running the slightest risk that any action will be taken against them by the only two agencies empowered to act – the council and the police.

Remarkably, no one in the borough seems troubled by this state of affairs. You’d think disability groups and organisations would be screaming their heads off, but they don’t seem to be.