MSPs heard that blue badges for disabled parking spaces are being misused on a “grand scale” in Scotland, as they considered a new law to crack down on the practice.
Holyrood members heard that surveys show up to 72 per cent of the 245,000 vehicle passes are being used illegally.
Transport minister Keith Brown told Holyrood’s local government and regeneration committee he hoped the law would “crucially” free up such spaces for legitimate holders - those with severe mobility problems.
The Disabled Persons Parking Badges (Scotland) bill will give extra powers to the police and local authorities to seize misused badges, which will be redesigned to make them harder to forge.
Ways in which the badges are misused include family or friends using a holder’s badge when they are not in the car, and the use of out-of-date badges.
Mr Brown said: “Blue badge misuse is socially unacceptable. The general public has to understand this is not a victimless crime. Abuse of the blue badge scheme will not be tolerated.”
The minister said a blue badge abuser in Edinburgh could be cheating the city council out of £6,000 a year by not paying for parking.
Aberdeenshire West SNP MSP Dennis Robertson, who introduced the bill, told the committee: “We have evidence that blue badges are being misused on a fairly grand scale at the moment. It’s a huge problem.”