A retired insurance broker from Kings Langley is warning people about online websites which are "conning" people into paying for blue badge applications.

After searching for "blue badge applications" online, Walter Haythorpe, of Gallows Hill, paid £98 to www.parkingpermits.uk.com thinking it was an official site for blue badge applications.

However, he is yet to receive a blue badge and despite multiple attempts to contact the website, he has not received a refund or an update on the blue badge. 

The 69 year old said: "I typed in ‘blue badge application’, which I assumed would be the official blue badge people and it said 'apply for a blue badge now'.

"It asked for some personal information and a little bit about what was wrong and why I needed the blue badge.

"I completed that and then got an email confirming my application and it said that £49 had been taken out of my account twice.

"I’m too trusting, that’s my trouble."

The father-of-two has since spoken with his bank and Three Rivers District Council about getting his money back, though he doesn’t expect to see the first of the two payments again.

He said: "They said they can get my money back because I have not received anything for the money that I have paid out.

"But I don’t expect to get the first £49 back. They said that the second payment was a duplicate payment."

Applications for blue badges are free and people who qualify for the parking permit only have to pay between £10 and £20, depending on where they live, once the local authority where they are applying for the badge deems that they need one.

He added: "I was very upset at the time. I feel like it is a bit of a con.

"A lot of them do it. They are all making out that they are blue badge applications."

The blue badge system was set up by Northgate Public Services, but it is up to local authorities throughout England, Scotland and Wales to decide on the applications.

Joe Bradley, Northgate’s executive director expressed fears about the number of websites asking for people to pay for blue badges.

He said: "Unauthorised websites are preying on vulnerable, disabled people and taking advantage of what is a successful and beneficial service aimed at promoting improved mobility for disabled people through a badge which gives them better access to facilities by easier parking."

"We are concerned that there are new websites out there misleading people into thinking that they have to pay £49 before they can even apply for a Blue Badge. This is not the case.

"We would like to assure potential applicants that the application process is free and that the best way to apply is via your local council or via the official Blue Badge website."

Hertfordshire County Council also echoed his concerns.

Simon Hoggett, press officer at Hertfordshire County Council said: "We are aware that some unauthorised private companies offer to process blue badge applications and charge a premium rate for their services.

"Although these services are not illegal we would advise the public against using them. Blue badges can be applied for directly at www.hertsdirect.org/bluebadge or www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge and cost just £10.

"If one of these intermediary companies fails to provide the blue badge paid for, consumers should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06."