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Article by Local Democracy Report, Deborah Price

More than 4,000 'blue badges' have been stripped from people in Hertfordshire who were abusing the system.

Herts County Council says the crackdown - between April and December last year - has saved them £1.8 million.

Falsely displaying a badge and blocking a space prevents someone with genuine mobility issues from parking close to their destination.

Concessionary travel passes offer free off peak bus travel to older and disabled residents.

For many of the county’s residents the schemes can be a vital support to their independence.

Data presented to a meeting of the county council’s resources and performance cabinet panel shows that between April and December 2018 officers in the ‘shared anti-fraud service’ have cancelled – or removed – more than 4000 blue badges or concessionary travel passes.

Nationally it’s been estimated that ‘blue badge’ fraud costs the economy £46 million a year – as well as taking specially allocated parking spaces away from those who need them.

The report suggests the county council is successfully preventing abuse, when compared to other councils: "Recent reports from the Local Government Association (LGA) indicate that Councils administering the Blue Badge (BB) scheme for disabled people are not taking sufficient enforcement action to prevent abuse.

"The council was not one of the councils identified by the report or mentioned in recent press articles as its statistics (for 2017/18) show that it does well preventing and detecting BB [blue badge] abuse compared to other Councils."

The Shared Anti Fraud Service (SAFS) is a partnership of a number of councils across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

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