PLAIN-clothes council officials will be handed powers to inspect and confiscate disabled parking badges after a new law was passed by MSPs to stamp out abuse of the system.

The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Disabled Persons' Parking Badges (Scotland) Bill yesterday, which also makes it illegal to use a blue badge that should have been cancelled or returned, with offenders facing a fine of up to £1,000.

SNP backbencher Dennis Robertson, who is blind and introduced the Bill to Holyrood, said misuse of blue badges has become a growing problem and often prevents people with genuine disabilities from accessing designated parking spaces.

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Research by Transport Scotland found that 83 per cent of the 245,000 legitimate blue badge holders north of the Border had encountered rule-­breaking. Transport Minister Keith Brown added that the lure of free parking had proved a temptation some can not refuse, sparking a relatively lucrative trade in forged documents.