Seven motorists have been fined after being caught fraudulently using disabled blue badges.
The fines follow the latest round of ‘Operation Bluebird,’ a crackdown by Brighton & Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council and Sussex Police.
The cases were brought before Eastbourne Magistrates last Friday by Brighton & Hove City Council prosecutor Len Batten. All defendants pleaded guilty either by letter on by attending the hearing.
Bank manager Hina Patel, 39, of Cornford Close, Portslade was fined £600 plus £450 costs and £30 Victim Surcharge after admitting two charges.
Bus driver Andrew Ellsey, 48, of Manor Hill, Brighton, was fined £300 with £450 costs and £30 Victim Surcharge after admitting one change.
Fellow bus driver Guentar Kuhn, 60, of Thornhill Rise, Portslade also admitted one change and was fined £200 with £450 costs and £20 Victim Surcharge.
Rest Home Director James Lytle, 65, of Lyndhurst Road, Hove, admitted two charges and was fined £500 with £450 costs and £30 Victim Surcharge.
Hairdresser Laura Coppard, 44, of St Johns Ship Street, Shoreham by Sea, was fined £200 with £450 costs and £20 Victim Surcharge after admitting one charge,
Joanne Pearl, of Bear Road, Brighton, admitted two charges and was fined £333 with £450 costs and £20 Victim Surcharge, while Terrie Millar, 25, of Ventnor Villas, Hove was £55 with £150 costs and £20 Victim Surcharge after admitting one charge.
Mark Prior, Head of Transport at Brighton & Hove City Council, 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 & Hove has to offer.”
Last year Brighton & Hove City Council, Sussex Police and East Sussex County Council won £183,000 of government funding to help crack down on misuse of blue badges 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, to raise awareness on how blue badges should be used and the consequences of blue badge fraud. Both councils provided additional funding of £30,000.
The city became the first in the country to offer offenders the option of a community resolution order 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 around 13,000 blue badges in Brighton & Hove and a further 24,000 in East Sussex. The Audit Commission estimates that 20% of blue badges are misused.
Funding provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government has funded two blue badge fraud investigation officers operating across East Sussex and Brighton & Hove to improve detection and share intelligence.
In recent years Brighton & Hove has worked successfully with Sussex Police and NSL on 'Operation Bluebird,' an initiative to target stolen blue badges and highlight fraud. The funding allowed the work to continue and be extended.