Council officials will crackdown on motorists abusing the blue badge system when parking enforcement is introduced to North Ayrshire.

That was the message from Thomas Reaney, head of service (Neighbourhood Services), at a meeting of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.

This came after it emerged there were 10,000 blue badges, which help disabled people with severe mobility problems by allowing them to park closer to their destination, in North Ayrshire.

Parking limits in town centres in North Ayrshire including Largs, Saltcoats, and Irvine are set to come into force over the coming months.

This is a consequence of decriminalised parking – which sees the transfer of parking enforcement move from Police Scotland to North Ayrshire Council, which is taking on parking wardens to carry out the measures to the letter of the law.

Decriminalising parking enforcement is a regime which enables the council to issue penalty charge notices to vehicles parking inappropriately.

Mr Reaney said: “I think it’s inevitable there will be more reports of this once we have people on the ground monitoring car parks and badges because all it takes is for a warden to see someone displaying a disabled badge and someone who is not that person entering the vehicle and that will immediately flag up a  concern we can act on.

“Just now we are relying on reports of the public from abuse but once you have six wardens patrolling the streets of North Ayrshire you will have more reports of this abuse.”

Garnock Valley Councillor Donald L Reid added: “I am just amazed that we have 10,000 blue badges in North Ayrshire and it clearly points out that all of them simply can’t be genuine.”

Committee chairman John Bell added: “I dare say the people that apply for them are genuine when they apply. 

"It’s more about how they are used subsequently which could be the issue.”