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ABANDONED CARS CRACKDOWN LAUNCHED

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Tough new measures to clamp down on abandoned cars which came ...
Tough new measures to clamp down on abandoned cars which came

into force yesterday have been welcomed by local government secretary Stephen Byers and environment minister Michael Meacher.

The measures for local authorities include:

- Powers to remove vehicles abandoned on the street anywhere in

England after 24 hours instead of the present seven days

- Increased opportunities to work with DVLA to remove unlicensed

cars

- Powers to dispose more quickly of unlicensed vehicles removed

under DVLA powers, after 7 days rather than 35

- Easier tracing and clarification of vehicle ownership through

additional funding from the 'Invest to Save' programme

Mr Byers said:

'Abandoned cars blight neighbourhoods, can be hazardous,

especially to children, and are arson cases waiting to happen.

They can also make the lives of local residents a misery.

'That is why we are taking these immediate steps to address the

problem. This is an important part of our safer streets agenda.

Local councils will, now have the power to remove many

abandoned cars after 24 hours, rather than seven days as

before.

'We are also encouraging local councils to work in partnership

with the DVLA and other authorities, making real inroads into the

bureaucratic barriers that have frustrated action in the past.

'Specifically, tracing vehicle owners will now be easier as a result

of a successful Invest to Save Bid, which has resulted in an

investment of£2.7m to make available computer links

between the DVLA and local councils.

'This initiative demonstrates our firm commitment to improving the

public space - making a real difference in people's lives and the

places in which they live and work.

'The government intends to introduce reforms to the vehicle

registration system to ensure that, in future, all vehicles can be

traced to the correct keeper. The principles of this were widely

supported in the consultation exercise. We will discuss the details

with interested parties, particularly motorists and businesses.'

Mr Meacher said:

'We are determined to put an end to the abominable eyesore on

roads and also in the countryside of thousands of abandoned

vehicles which are sometimes not removed for months. They

diminish the quality of peoples' local environment and can act as

a magnet for more serious anti-social behaviour.

'The new regulations tackle the problem head-on giving councils

the right to remove vehicles including cars, vans, lorries and

motorbikes left abandoned anywhere in England after 24 hours.

'I fully support the measures outlined by Stephen Byers to

improve the accuracy of the vehicle register and to make owners

take full responsibility for their vehicles.

'It is simply not right that an irresponsible minority of motorists

should attempt to evade their responsibilities for registering,

insuring and maintaining their vehicles.'

Notes

The government launched a consultation in October 2001 on measures

to deal with the problem of abandoned cars. The paper attracted over

350 responses, generally supporting the proposals. The main proposals

were:

- Reducing the notice periods after which it is possible for

local authorities to remove abandoned vehicles, from 7 days to 24

hours in the case of vehicles with no value, the category into

which the majority of abandoned vehicles fall. This will enable

local authorities to get rid of vehicles more quickly, reducing the

risk that they will be vandalised once a notice has been attached

to them, or that vehicles will simply be moved and parked somewhere

else.

- Reducing the notice periods after which unlicensed vehicles can

be destroyed once they have been removed, from 35 to 7 days for

vehicles without value;

- Giving local authorities new powers to act against unlicensed

vehicles, building on a pilot scheme currently under way in Newham;

- Improving access by local authorities to the DVLA vehicle

record, ensuring that they can obtain details of the registered

keeper more quickly and easily.

- Developing proposals for changing the vehicle registration

system to ensure that all vehicles can be associated with a

registered keeper who has clear responsibility for meeting costs

and complying with responsibilities associated with the vehicle,

until DVLA has been properly notified of a change of keepership.

- Invest to Save Budget is a Treasury/Cabinet Office led

competition involving£380m over the period to 2003/2004 designed

to develop projects which bring together two or more public bodies

to deliver services that are more innovative, more joined up, more

responsive and more efficient.

- The prime minister noted in his speech on Liveability (Croydon,

April 2001) that abandoned cars are one of the ways that local

public space is debased. The government set up a cross cutting

review on improving the public space as part of the SR2002 process.

The Review has undertaken a wide ranging study of all public

services, programmes and policies which impact on the quality of

streets and local public spaces. It is also looking at how

government policy can contribute to making everybody's local

environment clean, safe and pleasant to walk through. Tackling

abandoned vehicles is an important part of this.

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