A TRIO of care workers have been rapped for illegally using blue disabled badges to dodge parking charges and flout road rules.
The cases are the latest in Portsmouth City Council’s determined crackdown on blue badge abuse.
All three of the latest blue badge fraudsters have now been fined hundreds of pounds following separate hearings at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that on June 26, last year, Cheryl Lepota was caught by council enforcement officers using a blue badge to park on double yellow lines.
The 66-year-old, of George Street, Buckland, was using her work’s organisational blue badge, which is only allowed to be used when employees are transporting a disabled client.
When caught, lying Lepota claimed she was supporting clients – but she was actually using it to park for free while shopping on her day off and should have never have had the badge in her possession, her boss at You Trust later confirmed to investigators.
Lepota failed to attend court on January 29. However, the case proceeded in her absence and she was found guilty and issued with a £600 fine and ordered to pay £385 of costs.
Brenda Wright was also fined for her fraud. The 64-year-old, of Wellington Close, Horndean, was found parking her car in a disabled bay behind Argos in Landport View, on July 19.
She had displayed a badge belonging to Horndean Voluntary Care Group, enabling clients with disabilities to be transported.
A spokeswoman for Portsmouth City Council said: ‘When challenged, she admitted that she wasn't working and had taken advantage of the badge to get free parking.’
In court she entered a guilty plea and was fined £400 and ordered to pay £358 of costs.
Repeat offender Elaine Treleaven was caught using her husband’s blue badge to park her car on double-yellow lines in Grafton Street on July 14.
The 50-year-old, of Westborne Road, Copnor, admitted to an officer she was working in the nearby flats in her role as a manager for Crescent Community Care Group, and had parked the vehicle on double yellow lines displaying the badge as she couldn’t find any other parking spaces.
Treleaven had previously been caught abusing her husband’s disabled badge in 2015 and was issued with a written warning.
However, following her latest offence, she was hauled before magistrates in Portsmouth where she entered a guilty plea and was hit with a fine of £400 and £367 of costs.
The enforcement work has been welcomed by the city’s transport boss, Councillor Lynne Stagg, who said the council would always punish fraudsters.
She said: ‘Misuse of the blue badge is a criminal offence and it undermines the integrity of the scheme.
‘The scheme exists to make sure those who need assistance receive help, and it shocks me to see that people who work in the care sector have abused the system for personal gain.’
Blue badges can only be used if the registered holder is in the vehicle. Organisational badges can only be used when a disabled client in the vehicle.
During the past decade, Portsmouth City Council officers have confiscated almost 1,200 badges.
The council works with Hampshire County Council and provides enforcement training to other councils across the UK.