Thousands caught abusing disabled parking bays

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Thousands of motorists have been caught parking without disabled badges in disabled bays in Northamptonshire.

Figures released by Northamptonshire County Council showed more than 8,000 tickets were handed out over the past five years.

The fines earned the authority almost £250,000, but disabled rights campaigners from the county said the number of tickets issued may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Robin Hinton is a trustee of Northampton’s Shopmobility scheme, which rents out wheelchairs and scooters to disabled shoppers.

He said: “This is a real issue which makes life very difficult for a lot of people.

“Able-bodied people park in disabled bays regularly, they just don’t seem to care about the problems they cause for disabled people.”

The county council’s figures only relate to people who park in council-controlled bays, either at the side of the road or in car parks.

They do not include supermarkets and shopping centres, where Mr Hinton said the abuse of bays was a particular problem.

He said: “I think there should actually be a lot more people than this getting fines.

“If I ever see a traffic warden fining somebody for parking illegally in a disabled bay, I always say thank you to them for doing it.”

The shop mobility service has a number of disabled bays outside its base in the Mayorhold car park in the centre of Northampton.

Mr Hinton said staff there are often abused by able-bodied motorists who use the bays when they are empty.

He said: “I’ve been given abuse by people parking in the bays a number of times, I’ve even been told disabled people should go shopping at other times of the day so there are more spaces left for everybody else.

“I honestly believe a lot of people would rather see disabled people locked away somewhere out of sight. They just don’t care.

“But if they actually thought about the difficulties they can cause for disabled people by parking in disabled bays when they don’t need to, they would think again before doing it.”

An average of 1,654 tickets are handed out to drivers for parking in disabled bays in Northamptonshire each year.

The highest number of tickets given out in recent years was in 2008, when 1,875 were issued.