A local resident has been fined for dishonestly using a blue badge which was not theirs. They have been ordered to pay an £80 fine, plus £145 in costs and a £32 victim surcharge.
On Tuesday 1 December, Mr Smith of Norfolk Avenue, Leigh-on-Sea entered a guilty plea at Southend Magistrates Court under the charge of unlawful use of a disabled person’s badge contrary to s117 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
In February 2020, the council’s counter fraud officers were investigating allegations of blue badge fraud and approached Mr Smith while he was parked on double yellow lines near a school and asked to inspect the blue badge he was displaying. Mr Smith allowed the officer to retain the badge for further checks and gave a false return address for it.
Officers from the council’s counter fraud and investigation team managed to trace Mr Smith and he made a full admission in an interview. The original owner lost the badge during a car sale, and the badge was discovered in the glove compartment of the car.
Cllr Ron Woodley, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for transport, capital & inward investment said: “Blue badge fraud is estimated to cost councils across the country £46m each year.
“We wholly support the use of blue badges for the most vulnerable members of society, but this sort of activity undermines a scheme aimed at assisting those that need it. We also have a duty to protect and act against those who fraudulently misuse these badges.
“If anyone has suspicions concerning similar Blue Badge misuse, or other types of corporate fraud then please call the counter-fraud and investigation team on 01702 215254 or e-mail [email protected] All information received is treated in the strictest confidence.”
Artwork created by local artists will be popping up around the town promoting keeping safe whilst returning to the Borough’s shops.
The artwork will appear in shopping districts across the town from this week and will promote key messages for keeping to social distancing measures and also reminding visitors of the ‘hands, face, space’ message.
Two local artists – Sarah Judd and Darren Goddard – had their designs chosen by a panel of representatives from the council, Southend BID, retailers and businesses across the Borough, following a call out in July 2020 across the Visit Southend social media channels. Sarah’s work will appear on signs throughout the various shopping areas across the town, reiterating the social distancing message, whilst Darren’s work will feature on bus stops across Southend, promoting the ‘hands, face, space’ message.
The project is led by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Southend BID, and the artists are funded through the Reopening High Streets Safely fund and the European Regional Development fund, which had previously been used to put safety measures in place to safely open the town’s shopping districts following the lockdown in March.
Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture, and tourism, said: “I am delighted to see local artists having their work displayed across the Borough for thousands of visitors to see as they return to the shops for their Christmas shopping.
“In a time when the arts industry has had such a challenging year, I was pleased to see that we’ve been able to support Southend’s incredible cultural talents. The hardest part of it all was to select the winners from all the fantastic submissions we received, and I would like to thank everyone who submitted a design for this project.”
Suzanne Gloyne, Southend Business Improvement District manager, said: “We know that everyone has had an extremely challenging year, but with businesses that were temporarily closed now reopening, I am pleased that we have been able to provide local artists this platform to share their pieces of art with all of the town’s visitors.
“I would like to encourage local artists to keep their eyes peeled, as we are hopeful that we are able to build on this project and provide further opportunities to support our talented residents.”
In addition to the signs created by local artists, the standard shop local, shop safe signage put up on lampposts earlier this year have also been replaced with new lamppost and bollard signs across shopping areas.
The free Christmas parking offer will start on Thursday 3 December and runs up to and including Thursday 24 December. In previous years the festive offer has only applied to car parks in Southend town centre, but in order to support all local businesses this festive season, the council has decided to expand the scheme across the Borough.
The offer applies to council run ‘off-street’ car parks, but not ‘on-street’ parking bays. A list of council car parks is available on our website.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport said: “The Christmas period is important for local traders and that is why we are keen to once again offer our free festive parking on Thursday evenings and Sundays. This offer has proven very popular in recent years and I am pleased to be able to offer this once again and also extend it to all council owned car parks across the Borough.
“I would like to take this opportunity to remind all residents and visitors to enjoy the Borough safely by adhering to the current regulations and restrictions whilst doing their festive shopping. Following the Government announcement that non-essential shops will reopen this week, it’s important that whilst we support our businesses and help boost the local economy, we all continue to work together to reduce the spread of the virus.
“I hope this offer will attract both residents and visitors to the town for their Christmas shopping to help local retailers enjoy a bountiful Christmas after the challenging year we have faced.”