Council bosses in South Tyneside are cracking down on drivers using disabled parking spaces - with fines more than tripling in the last three years, new figures show.
A Freedom of Information Request submitted to South Tyneside Council reveals 1,718 Penalty Charge Notices were issued between 2015 and 2017 to motorists parking in spaces reserved for the disabled.
While some fines can be waived when blue badge holders provide evidence to challenge their notices, far fewer fines were waived last year.
As a result, the council has raked in more payments from offenders, with a £6,790 income in 2017/18 - compared to £1,135 in 2016/17 and £1,372 in 2015/16.
A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: “Blue Badge parking permits are issued to people with disabilities to give them easier access to local amenities.
“The scheme includes the provision of disabled parking bays as well as exemptions from certain parking restrictions. Misuse of disabled pays in particular reduces access for genuine blue badge holders.”
There are two separate penalty notice levels.
In South Tyneside, off-street parking fines are £50 while on-street parking fines stretch to £70 – reduced to £25 and £35 respectively if paid within 14 days.
The council spokeswoman added: “We would always urge people to park considerately and only use these spaces if they have the right to do so.”
“We carry our regular patrols of disabled bays as part of parking enforcement across the borough.
“Those who do not display their blue badge correctly, or do not follow the rules that apply, risk receiving a fine.”
Head of communications at disability charity Scope, Phil Talbot, welcomed the move.
“It’s really good to hear that South Tyneside has stepped up its enforcement for motorists illegally using disabled parking bays,” he said..
“Too many councils don’t take this issue seriously enough.
“Disabled people often have to rely on their cars. In many cases, their condition means they need to park a short distance from facilities, amenities and of course, to socialise.
“Those who abuse these parking spaces need to understand the negative impact their actions have on disabled people and should expect consequences.”
For more information about parking in South Tyneside, visit: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/parking
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service