THE number of drivers fined for wrongly parking in disabled parking spaces in the Bradford district has increased in each of the last three years, the Telegraph & Argus can reveal.

A total of £345,030 was raised from the 13,285 fines slapped on drivers by Bradford Council between April 2014 and October this year.

The number of fines in the 2014/15 financial year was 3,506; in 2015/16 it increased to 3,762; in 2016/17 it rose again to 3,819; while the figure so far in 2017/18 is 2,198.

This included £320,337 from fines for on-street parking infringements for parking without displaying a blue badge, and £24,693 for off-street parking without a valid badge.

The Council recouped £92,070 in 2014/15 for both in and off-street violations, in 2015/16 it was £101,988; the figure rose to £102,051 in 2016/17. The 2017/18 year, up to the end of October this year, is £48,919.

Emmerson Walgrove, Bradford & District Disabled People’s Forum chairman, condemned drivers for misusing the disabled parking spaces and called for an increase in the amount drivers are fined.

He said: “It is inexcusable to wrongly use a disabled parking space.

“Bradford Council need to learn from these figures and put more disabled parking spaces around the district.

“How many people know where the existing disabled parking spaces are? They need to publicise where the spaces are more freely, so that people who genuinely need to use the spaces, know where they are.

“The Council needs to re-evaluate the fines policy. It needs to increase the fines to deter people from parking in disabled parking spaces.”

Meanwhile, 2,197 of the total number of fines between April 2014 and October this year were challenged, of which 1,133 of them were successful over the same period.

There are 102 designated disabled spaces in the Bradford district’s pay and display car parks. But disabled badge holders can use any other spaces if they display their badge and stay for the maximum stay period within that car park.

Kirkgate - Central has been the site with the most parking fines issued, with 2,820 over the last four years. It is followed by Piccadilly with 2,593 and Aldermanbury with 1,825. The top ten for each of the four years also featured sites away from Bradford city centre, including Keighley Leisure Centre, Main Street in Bingley and Station Road in Ilkley.

Fines were handed to drivers for using a badge that is no longer valid, using a valid badge when the badge holder is not present, of without their permission or using a badge that has been lost, stolen or photocopied. They were also handed out for upside down badges and not displaying a time clock on a parked vehicle.

On its website, the Council states it is committed to reducing fraudulent use of blue badges by prosecuting drivers who misuse them.

A Bradford Council spokesman said: “Parking in a disabled parking bay if you are not disabled makes life difficult for people who really need those places.

“It is selfish and mean behaviour as well as being against the law.

“By continuing to monitor all disabled parking spaces Bradford Council wardens do their best to catch and punish those people who abuse disabled badge holder parking.”

The Council has produced a leaflet, Bradford City Centre for Disabled Visitors, which includes all of the sites for disabled parking within this area and a map of where they are located. This leaflet is also available online.

According to the local authority’s website, depending on the seriousness of the parking violations, drivers will be charged either the higher rate of £70 or the lower rate of £50.

If paid within 14 days of receiving the fine, the charge is reduced by 50 per cent to either £35 or £25 for parking contraventions. After 14 days, drivers have to pay the full charge.