Social worker fined for illegal blue badge use

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A woman who fraudulently used a Blue Badge to park in a disabled bay has been sentenced in court.

Martine Edwards, of Pirton, appeared at Luton Magistrates’ Court on 20 June where she admitted Blue Badge fraud – an offence under section 21(4B) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons’ Act 1970.

The Blue Badge permit was in the name of another woman and the badge is only to be used by her or in a vehicle in which she is being transported.

Edwards was spotted on 8 November last year using the permit in Crawley Road car park, Luton, by a Luton Borough Council officer without the badge holder, who lives in Central Bedfordshire, present in the vehicle.

When interviewed Edwards said she believed it was okay to use the badge if she was supporting a disabled person, but then accepted that it is not appropriate to take up a disabled space or to misuse a Blue Badge permit.

She confirmed that she is not eligible to use a Blue Badge permit if on her own.

Edwards was fined £183, ordered to pay £200 towards the prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £30.

She was given credit for her previous good character and guilty plea at the first opportunity.

Councillor Richard Wenham, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “While some may see the overall cost of £413 as a relatively small price to pay for her offence, the real impact on Martine Edwards is that she now has a criminal conviction to her name.

“That may affect her current job as a social worker and could also affect future employment opportunities.

“Fraudulently using a Blue Badge could not only land you in court, as this case proves, but is incredibly selfish as it takes away a parking space that disabled people may need to use.”

The court case follows hot on the heels of a day of action against Blue Badge fraud across Central Bedfordshire.

Officers checked 112 Blue Badges across Biggleswade, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Sandy last Friday (16 June) and found that seven were being fraudulently used as the badge holder wasn’t present on the journey.

Further action will be taken on those caught.

For more information about Blue Badges, holders’ responsibilities and where they allow you to park, visit www.centralbefordshire.gov.uk/bluebadge