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ACTION TO TACKLE THE BLIGHT OF ABANDONED CARS

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Transport secretary Stephen Byers today unveiled a package of ...
Transport secretary Stephen Byers today unveiled a package of

measures to crack down on the growing problem of abandoned cars. An

estimated 350,000 cars were dumped last year.

Proposals include removing dumped cars within 24 hours and new powers

to track down and prosecute owners and offenders.

Commenting at the launch of a joint DTLR/DEFRA consultation document,

Mr Byers said:

'Dumped cars are an increasing eyesore on our streets and a real

danger to children who are attracted to them as playgrounds. Too

often they are also a target for local arsonists. Our proposals

published today aim to get dumped cars off the streets quickly and

efficiently.

'The measures will give local councils increased powers to deal with

these cars and get rid of the bureaucratic boundaries that make it

easier for people to get away with it. It will also reduce the

demands on the police and fire services who have to deal with the

vandalism and arson resulting from dumped cars.

'This is all about making our neighbourhoods better places to live.'

Welcoming the joint publication, environment minister Michael Meacher

said:

'The recent rapid increase in abandoned cars, due to the sharp fall

in scrap metal prices, is now emerging as one of the biggest menaces

facing our towns and cities. They are not only an eyesore, but can

become a potential firebomb. With these tough new measures we are

determined to stamp out the problem.'

London boroughs are among the worst affected by abandoned cars.

Ealing destroyed 3,750 cars last year, costing the authority more

than£250,000.

The proposals set out in the consultation include:

- Reducing the notice periods before cars can be removed, from seven

days to 24 hours in the cases of vehicles with no value - the

overwhelming majority of dumped cars. This will reduce the risk of

cars simply being moved and parked elsewhere and reduce the danger of

vandalism once a notice has been attached;

- Enabling local authorities to use the DVLA's powers to clamp and

remove unlicensed vehicles. Pilot schemes in Lewisham LBC and Newham

LBC involved the local authority acting as DVLA contractors, removing

and impounding unlicensed vehicles;

- Promoting best practice for the agencies dealing with abandoned

and unlicensed cars;

- Tightening vehicle registration procedures to ensure that those

who dump cars can be tracked down and prosecuted.

John Denham, home office minister for crime reduction, policing and

community safety, also welcomed the announcement. He said:

'Abandoned vehicles pollute and blight the environment, present

safety hazards, and become targets for vandalism and crime.

Determined action against abandoned vehicles has obvious road, social

and environmental benefits but it will also help us to target wider

criminal activity. By removing them we reduce the fear of crime,

remove opportunities for crime and restore people's pride in their

communities.

'I welcome the proposals set out in the consultation document as

sensible measures to effect real improvement.'

NOTES

The consultation on measures to deal with abandoned cars runs until

31 January 2002.

More than 350,000 cars are estimated to have been dumped in the UK

during 2000, and the number of vehicles being abandoned has increased

sharply in recent years.

In summary, the measures on which the Government is seeking views

are:

Short-term measures

- 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 - into which category the majority

of abandoned vehicles are likely to fall and from 21 days to a period

between 7 and 14 days for vehicles of value. 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 14 days for

vehicles of value and 35 to 7 days for vehicles without value;

- Empowering local authorities to use Vehicle Excise and

Registration Act powers against unlicensed vehicles, building on the

pilot schemes currently under way in Lewisham LBC and Newham LBC;

- Improving access by local authorities to the DVLA vehicle record,

ensuring that they can obtain details on whether or not vehicles are

licensed and on the identity of the registered keeper more quickly

and easily, using a web-based portal and hand-held devices through

which local authority staff can access vehicle record data;

- Promoting and disseminating information on best practice.

Longer-term proposals

- A system of continuous registration which would reinforce the

current requirement that a vehicle keeper must either pay Vehicle

Excise Duty (Road Tax) to keep a vehicle on the public road or make a

SORN declaration, by ensuring that the fiscal responsibility remained

with the registered keeper until DVLA had been formally notified of a

change;

- The possibility of a more rigorous regime for registering the

transfer of vehicles, to ensure that records of keepers are kept up

to date, allowing more rigorous enforcement.

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