The ALG has successfully secured the funding for the scheme as part of the government's Anti Social Behaviour Action Plan launched today by the prime minister and the home secretary David Blunkett (see LGCnet). It is one of the government's ten 'trailblazing' schemes aimed at showing how the problems of nuisance neighbours, begging and environmental crime can be tackled.
Under Operation Scrap It, which will be operating across London by October 2004, all:
- abandoned and untaxed vehicles will be cleared off the capital's streets within 72 hours of being reported by a member of the public
- untaxed and unregistered vehicles will be faced with being crushed
- boroughs will offer a free take back service for anyone wanting to get rid of an unwanted vehicle - giving people no excuses to dump it on London's streets or estates
London deals with 37 per cent of the nation's abandoned vehicles, with numbers of vehicles dumped on the capital's streets doubling year on year for the past four years. Around 135,000 abandoned vehicles were taken off the capital's roads last year.
There has been an estimated 50 per cent rise in the number of motorists across the country evading paying their car tax, and in parts of London it is believed that one in ten drivers don't have insurance.
Uninsured motorists add an estimated £30 being added to the yearly insurance premium of a law-abiding motorist. These selfish drivers are also likely to flout other laws like parking tickets, speeding fines, and the congestion charge because their vehicles are often unregistered and they cannot be traced.
Abandoned vehicles not only cause an unnecessary hazard wherever they are dumped, they also have a serious impact on the quality of life and fear of crime of residents living in that area. Surveys by the ALG consistently show these are among the key concerns of Londoners.
They can spark other forms of antisocial behaviour in the areas where they are dumped and be the target of vandals and firebugs -in 2001 abandoned vehicle fires in London cost £51m to deal with.
The scheme follows pilot schemes in Newham and Lewisham. Newham LBC dealt with 12,000 cases of untaxed and abandoned vehicles last year, and in the first six months of this year it destroyed 2,040 vehicles. It now has the quickest abandoned and untaxed car removal rate in the country.
Chair of the ALG, Robin Wales, said: 'Abandoned, untaxed and uninsured vehicles are a menace to the safety of the thousands of people who use our very busy roads every day.
'Boroughs take very seriously the impact these mindless actions can have on the lives of every other member of the community. This welcome government support will enable us to get tougher with these selfish people and improve the quality of life and the safety of everyone who lives, works and visits London.
'The simple messages we are sending out loudly and clearly are - Tax it, Register it, or lose it, and that there will be no excuse to abandon your vehicle.'