A crackdown on the misuse of blue badges and concessionary travel passes in Hertfordshire has saved the taxpayer £1.8 million.

Displaying a ‘blue badge’ allows disabled motorists – or motorists with a disabled passenger – to park closer to their destination.

And concessionary travel passes offer free off peak bus travel to older and disabled residents.

For many of the county’s residents the schemes can be a vital support to their independence.

But data presented to a meeting of the county council’s resources and performance cabinet panel on Friday (May 10) shows the schemes have been abused by thousands of travellers.

It shows that between April and December 2018 officers in the ‘shared anti-fraud service’ have cancelled – or removed – more than 4,000 blue badges or concessionary travel passes.

And that, according to the report, has saved the county council an estimated £1.8 million.

Nationally it’s been estimated that ‘blue badge’ fraud costs the economy £46 million a year – as well as taking disabled parking spaces away from those who need them.

And there have been concerns expressed about abuse. But the report suggests the county council is successfully preventing abuse, when compared to other councils.

The report states: “Recent reports from the Local Government Association indicate that councils administering the Blue Badge scheme for disabled people are not taking sufficient enforcement action to prevent abuse.

“The council was not one of the councils identified by the report or mentioned in recent press articles as its statistics (for 2017/18) show that it does well preventing and detecting Blue Badge abuse compared to other councils.”

The Shared Anti Fraud Service is a partnership of a number of councils across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

In addition to the county council, they include Broxbourne, East Herts Hertsmere, Luton, North Herts and Stevenage councils. It also includes Aldwyck Housing Group and BBLiving.