Just three cities issued half of England’s disabled badge prosecutions last year - and one of them was Leeds

The majority of all disabled parking badge prosecutions were brought by just three local authorities last year.

The majority of all disabled parking badge prosecutions were brought by just three local authorities last year.

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THE majority of all disabled parking badge prosecutions in England were brought by Leeds City Council and just two other local authorities last year, new figures show.

Councils across the country took legal action against 896 motorists for blue badge misuse in the 12 months to the end of March, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

Press Association analysis of the data found that 449 of the prosecutions (50.1%) were carried out by local authorities in Leeds (215), Hammersmith and Fulham (146) and Newcastle (88).

The overall number of cases was 9% down on the previous year’s figure of 985.

Almost all (98%) were for drivers using someone else’s blue badge.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “Blue badge abuse makes many drivers see red.

“Those acting fraudulently are insulting those people who really need the badges and bring the whole system into disrepute.

“Anyone caught cheating should know they face penalties whether they live in Slough, Swindon or Sheffield.”

Blue badges enable disabled people to park for free in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines, while in London they exempt holders from having to pay the congestion charge.

People found guilty of misusing them can be fined up to £1,000.

Leeds City Council, which caught more drivers abusing the system than any other council, launched a “zero tolerance” approach to the issue in April 2013 when it stopped issuing warning letters and began sending cases straight to prosecution.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “As the second largest city outside of London we take a no-nonsense approach and prosecute anyone we find abusing a blue badge.

“The rules are clear as the system is designed to make life easier for those who genuinely need it. Abusing a blue badge inconveniences others and puts people at a disadvantage which is simply unfair.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association, representing local authorities in England and Wales, insisted that councils are working hard to “crack down on this crime” despite limited resources.

He added: “To help councils win the fight against blue badge fraud, residents must keep tipping us off about people they suspect are illegally using a badge, bearing in mind people’s need for a badge might not always be obvious.”

Some 138 local authorities provided data to the DfT.

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