14,000 fined for parking in disabled bays across Wales
Motorists have been fined more than 14,000 times for abusing disabled parking spaces across Wales.
New data shows that last year alone thousands of motorists wrongly parked in the spaces meant to help disabled people access shops and venues.
The figures have sparked warnings that parking in the disabled spaces is "not a victimless crime".
Disabled driver Roger Jones, from Bridgend, said: "If you want my parking space, you have my disability."
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Mr Jones, a former police officer who was involved in a motorcycle accident 55 years ago, walks using crutches and needs a disabled bay to park his adapted car.
"None of us asked to have our disability," he said.
"It's getting people to think before they park - and that is very hard, unfortunately."
"You come across [people parking in disabled bays] occasionally where people are using the blue badge as if they have a right, but unfortunately, unless the person who has the disability is in the vehicle, that badge is not valid. It's illegal."
The latest figures were supplied to the BBC by 15 of Wales' 22 councils that had data available and handled their own parking enforcement between 2013-14 and 2017-18.
The penalty notices were for on-street and car park bays reserved for blue badge users.
While the figure has remained pretty static for the last four years, some areas have seen marked increases in the number of fines issued for people misusing disabled parking bays.
Cardiff issued the most last year, about 3,100, while Swansea issued the second highest amount, with 2,200 handed out - a 158% rise on the same figure four years ago.
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Denbighshire was the authority with the third highest figure - 1,892 - although this was down about 25% on last year.
Blue badges are parking permits which allow disabled drivers and passengers to park nearer to where they are going - usually in the specially marked disabled parking bays.
Swansea now has its enforcement team working closely with its blue badge department to tackle designated bays wrongly being used.
It means they can now advise motorists the impact parking offences have on drivers with a disability.
Councillor Mark Thomas, Swansea Council cabinet member, said: "It's getting everybody on-board with understanding…it's not just a victimless offence or crime, it has deep, deep meaningful repercussions for people who hold blue badges."
Some councils have also been tracking people who illegitimately use blue badges.
In March, a Bridgend council investigation ended in a rare prosecution of a driver for fraud in relation to misuse of a blue badge.
They were given a 12-month community order, ordered to do 100 hours' unpaid work and hit with almost £1,000 in fines and court costs.