RUNNING late to lectures and wanting to park closer to home are two of the reasons given by University of Portsmouth students for illegally using disabled blue badges.
Three students were among five drivers who were prosecuted during May by Portsmouth City Council for misusing Blue Badges to gain free parking, and were ordered to pay fines totalling £2,499, including court costs and surcharges.
Human Physiology student Rossi Marinelli was found on four occasions abusing a badge to park on double yellow lines near to his home address. The badge he was using was issued to an organisation in Kent who provide respite care to disabled and vulnerable children and came into his possession by mistake two years ago when his sister who works for the company left it in his car.
The 22-year-old of Fawcett Road tried to dodge any links to the badge or the vehicle by lying to Officers and claiming it was nothing to do with him, however when confronted by Portsmouth City Council senior investigator Stephen Goodall, Mr Marinelli admitted that that on one of the occasions he misused the badge because he was running late for a football match, and on the others because he didn’t want to walk far to his home.
He was ordered to pay a total of £650.
In October last year Rebecca West, of Hooks Farm Way, Waterlooville was caught using her grandmothers badge outside of a University of Portsmouth building. Checks confirmed that the badge holder was shopping in Havant and was unaware that her badge was being used in Portsmouth.
The 23-year-old nursing student admitted that she was using the badge to get free parking and further that she had done the same on previous occasions whenever she was running late for lectures. She entered a guilty plea to one offence of misusing a disabled badge and the courts fined her a total of £290.
Fellow student Daawuud Rabbani, from Bassett Wood Drive, Southampton, was caught a month later in November for using his father’s disabled badge to park on double yellow lines outside of a halls of residence in Portsmouth. When he came back to the vehicle he claimed that he was supporting his father who was waiting nearby, however in fact his father was on holiday in Pakistan.
The 20-year-old Business Management student said that he was ashamed of his actions and didn’t want his father to find out about the badge abuse so asked the Council Officer to let him off with a warning.
Mr Rabbani entered a guilty plea to one offence and the courts imposed a financial penalty of £518.
Plasterer Peter Marsh, of Millbrook Drive, Havant, was caught in October using a disabled badge belonging to a friend to park his Mercedes in a disabled bay in the city centre. Checks confirmed that the badge holder was currently at a nursing home in Waterlooville and had not left the building since April due to poor health.
During interview, the 66-year-old told Investigating Officer Stephen Goodall that he knew he shouldn’t be using the badge, but he did it so that he could park closer to the pub. He pleaded guilty to using the badge and another for failing to present the badge for inspection to an Officer and was given a fine of £440.
Care worker James Wileman, of Wilton Terrace, Southsea was found on two occasions in November misusing a badge to park his car near to his home address. The 26-year-old stated that he was the full time carer for the badge holder and after her death placed the badge in his own car due to only having one parking permit for the two cars he owned.
He entered a guilty plea to two charges of misuse of a deceased persons badge and incurred a total fine of £601.
Councillor Lynne Stagg, cabinet member for traffic and transportation, said: ‘It is disappointing to learn that in all of these cases, the badge used belonged to a family member. Abuse of this kind affects the everyday lives of genuinely disabled users and cannot be tolerated, no matter what the circumstances are.
‘If you drive on behalf of a Blue Badge holder as a relative, friend or carer, make sure you know the rules and use the badge accordingly. You must be able to account for the holder’s whereabouts when displaying the badge, it’s that simple.’