ALMOST £450,000 has been raised from fines for drivers caught wrongly parking in disabled parking spaces in the Bradford district over the last four years, the Telegraph & Argus can reveal.

A total of £447,242 was raised from the 15,884 fines slapped on drivers by Bradford Council between April 2018 and March 14 this year.

The number of fines, for both on and off-street parking violations, in the 2018/19 financial year was 4,543; in 2019/20 it increased to 4,915; in 2020/21 (during the early stages of the pandemic and lockdowns) it fell to 2,677; while the figure so far in 2021/22 is 3,749.

A total of 14,992 on-street parking infringements for parking without displaying a blue badge, and 892 for off-street parking without a valid blue badge were reported for the four financial years; from 2018/19 to 2021/22 up to March 14, 2022.

The Council recouped £128,124 in 2018/19 for both in and off-street violations, in 2019/20 it was £134,851; the figure fell during the early months of the pandemic, to £80,455 in 2020/21. The 2021/22 year, up to March 14 this year, is £103,812 so far.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The disabled parking space warning sign in Godwin Street, Bradford city centre The disabled parking space warning sign in Godwin Street, Bradford city centre

Emmerson Walgrove, of the Bradford & District Disabled People’s Forum, condemned drivers for misusing the disabled parking spaces, adding they need to be better educated on who should really use the designated spaces.

He said: “The importance of leaving the spaces for disabled drivers is for them having a disabled parking space is for them to be able to access the facilities that are around, like The Broadway in accessible form, so they are able to get out of their car because they are disabled, from a disabled space, and to be able to do their daily tasks, shopping or going to the bank.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The disabled parking area at Kirkgate - CentralThe disabled parking area at Kirkgate - Central

People that park in disabled spaces without a disabled badge are being inconsiderate, unfair and not respectful to people who have received the privilege of having a disabled badge because of their disability. Therefore, they should have more respect

“The council’s ability to collect and fine has improved since the last time this issue was raised.

“But there needs to be room for improvement. The enforcement in the district needs to be more proactive in educating and engaging people why they can’t park in a disabled space.

“All people are angry about it (people wrongly parking in disabled spaces).”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Disabled parking is available at Norfolk Gardens by City Hall in BradfordDisabled parking is available at Norfolk Gardens by City Hall in Bradford

Mr Walgrove says he saw three drivers park in a disabled space in Bradford city centre in just a few minutes, each without displaying a disabled badge on their vehicles.

Meanwhile, the figures obtained via the council also revealed the number of fines handed out to drivers caught wrongly parking in a disabled space which were challenged.

It found 2,831 of the total number of fines between April 2018 and March 14 this year were challenged, of which 1,300 of them were successful over the same period.

Bradford Council says it ‘continues to prioritise’ enforcement of drivers wrongly parking in disabled bays across the Bradford district.

There are 557 designated bays in the Bradford district for blue badge holders, the council has confirmed.

Kirkgate - Central has been the site with the most parking fines issued, with 2,964 over the last four years. It is followed by Piccadilly with 2,498 and Bank Street Central with 1,362, then Aldermanbury with 1,354. The top 10 for each of the four years also featured sites away from Bradford city centre, including Cooke Street in Keighley, Station Road in Ilkley and Patent Street in Manningham.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Piccadilly in Bradford also has a disabled parking area Piccadilly in Bradford also has a disabled parking area

The figures have been released following a Freedom of Information request from the T&A to the council.

A Bradford Council spokesman said: “We continue to prioritise enforcement of disabled bays across the district.

Ensuring that there is suitable parking and a turnover of spaces for disabled people is really important to us

"We also carry out regular patrols with our corporate fraud unit to deal with drivers who use a disabled badge when the badge holder is not present."

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.