A BRIERFIELD motorist who used his mother's blue badge to avoid parking charges in Manchester city centre has been left with a £1,500 legal bill.

VW Golf driver Vaquas Ahmed, 31, was caught out by enforcement officers twice leaving his vehicle in a disabled bay in Cable Street, Manchester, the city's magistrates court was told.

Ahmed initially claimed, when challenged by enforcement officer Jeff Farrell, that he had been on his way to pick up his mother, during one of the incidents.

But city council prosec-utor Laura Raine said that another investigator, David Rimmer, had followed Ahmed's car as far as Cheetham Hill Road and he had not picked up any passengers.

The motorist later confessed that he had used the blue badge illegally around 10 times in the city, when his mother was not present with him in the car.Miss Raine said such offences were unfair on motorists who legitimately paid parking fees across the city.

Ahmed, of Towneley Street, admitted two offences of contravening the city council's parking regulations and was fined £500, with £980 costs, and a £15 victim surcharge.

An inquiry will also be launched by the city council after one of their councillors provided a reference for Ahmed - in one of their own prosec-utions.

The unnamed councillor's testimony, on city council- headed notepaper, was one of a number of references handed to the court by the defendant. Passing sent-ence, magistrates' chairman John Foss said: "No doubt you have learned a very costly lesson here today through this matter.

"It just might be that other people who unlaw-fully use disabled badges will think twice in future, as the courts take a very dim view of it."

Coun Richard Cowell, executive member for the environment, said: "The blue badge scheme was set up for members of the community who have a genuine need.

"Where motorists are found to be abusing the scheme with no regard for genuinely disabled badge holders being able to park, the city council will not hesitate to prosecute them."