A total of 13 Birmingham city centre office workers, most of them employed by the Royal Bank of Scotland, have been found guilty of dishonestly using disabled blue badges to secure free parking - one of them belonging to a dead pensioner.
The worst offender, Suneel Takiar, 33, was caught three times using a blue badge in the city centre issued to his father who died two years ago.
Some with have to pay fines and legal costs of more than £1,000 after pleading guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court for misuse of the badge under the Road Traffic Regulation Act.
It follows a series of sting operations by Birmingham City Council traffic enforcement officers on car parks in the Brindleyplace area last August and September.
Most used blue badges belonging to disabled parents or other relatives to avoid pay and display parking charges while at work.
Their jobs included a senior business associate, mortgage broker, financial advisor, billing administrator and a legal assistant - careers in which a criminal record can mean immediate dismissal.
Birmingham City Council’s principal enforcement officer Gary Bullock said: “This is a serious offence. About 90 per cent of those we catch are financial workers or professionals, many have new cars. The spaces they are taking up are for genuine disabled people.”
He said the scam could save them £4,500 to £5,500 each year.
Their excuses included running late for work, not having enough change, they had dropped disabled relative off at the shops or for a medical appointment on way to work and not realising it was an offence.
Takiar, of Humberstone Drive, Leicester, was spotted by council wardens on August 3, September 9 and 10 last year as he parked his silver Vauxhaul Astra in Sheepcote Street. Each time it was shortly before 9am.
Nicola Lea, prosecuting told the court, “There were no other passengers in the vehicle. The badge was checked and found to belong to a 62-year-old deceased male called Sudesh Takiar, his father who passed away two years ago.”
Takiar apologised to the court for his offence and said it was completely out of character. He said: “My work has suffered, I am threatened with redundancy.”
But magistrates fined him a total of £800 for the three offences, ordered him to pay £350 legal costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Dahood Yousaf, (31), was also caught on three occasions last summer as he parked his Renault Clio in Grandville Street while on his way to work at RBS in Brindleyplace.
Yousaf, of Marlborough Road, Bearwood, used his 74-year-old father’s badge to avoid paying to park. He told the court: “I have got no excuse. Each time I was late for work and wasn’t thinking straight.” He will also have to pay a total of £1,115 for the three offences.
The third defendant to appear in person was unemployed Bernadette Reid who used the badge to park her Peugeot 307 in Cornwall Street on September 21, 2009, while working as a legal assistant at Anthony Collins Solicitors.
Reid, 40, of Cavandale Road, Great Barr, told the court that she had dropped her disabled elderly mother and sister at the Bullring to shop before parking and intended driving her back during her lunch break. Officials found her mother at home during the mid-morning. She was fined £200, had to pay £350 costs and a £15 surcharge.
Birmingham City council is currently running a ‘respect the Badge’ campaign to crackdown on disabled parking badge violation. www.birmingham.gov.uk/bluebadgemisuse Contact the campaign at email@example.com or 0121 303 7613.