Page last updated at 06:37 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 07:37 UK

Illegal blue badges cost 500,000

Disabled parking space
Anyone caught parking illegally could face fines of up to 1,000

Drivers parking illegally in spaces for disabled motorists are costing Birmingham 500,000 in lost parking fees each year, council chiefs said.

The city council has vowed to take tough action against those caught, threatening fines of up to 1,000.

Hundreds of people had already been caught, council leaders told an investigation by BBC's Inside Out in the West Midlands.

A blue badge can only be displayed if the permit holder is using the vehicle.

Criminal record

Transport chiefs said the most common misuse was people using badges awarded to their relatives, without the relatives being in the car.

However, people had also been caught using fraudulent badges.

Currently, wardens only have the powers to tow away the offending vehicles and to issue a fine of 140.

However, the city council said it would now start using private prosecutions to bring people to court, which would allow them to impose higher fines and leave the drivers with a criminal record.

Extra patrols will also be out on the streets catching those flouting the law.

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Offenders may face a criminal record and a substantial fine




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