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Last Updated: Monday, 22 November, 2004, 10:56 GMT
Campaign targets UK's dumped cars
A burning car
Abandoned cars act as magnets for crimes such as arson
The government has launched a crackdown aimed at clearing abandoned cars from Britain's streets.

The drive, which aims to cut dumped cars by 25% by 2008, includes giving councils more powers to fine offenders and seize cars causing a nuisance.

Some 300,000 cars are abandoned every year, costing local authorities 26m to remove them and trace their owners.

The government says the problem has increased sharply in the past five years and is projected to keep rising.

This is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including the rise in car ownership and a drop in the value of scrap metal, meaning scrap dealers will pay less than in the past to take an abandoned car.

If no action is taken, the number of vehicles being abandoned is expected to reach 500,000 by 2008.

Councils say abandoned vehicles act as a magnet for crime, anti-social behaviour and arson.

Seize and destroy

In addition to the thousands of cars dumped every year, a further one million are uninsured and untaxed for more than three months, or have no current keeper, and are likely to be abandoned in the future.

The national strategy to reverse the trend includes giving local authorities more power to immediately seize and destroy vehicles which are causing a nuisance.

Fees for towing away and storing untaxed and unregistered cars which are subsequently returned to their owners are to be increased.

COSTS
Investigating and removing abandoned vehicles costs 26m annually
Vehicle arson costs 230m a year to clean up
Failure to tax vehicles adds up to 93m in lost revenue
Unlicensed and uninsured drivers are estimated to add 30 to every motor insurance policy

And the government is planning to introduce a fixed penalty scheme, making it quicker and easier to punish people who abandon cars, without having to go through the courts.

Councils will also be supported to make use of their existing powers and experts will be paid to share their knowledge through a new advisory service.

The national strategy is launched on the same day that all 32 London boroughs announced they were now removing nuisance vehicles within 72 hours of a report from a member of the public, under Operation Scrap-It.

They are among about a quarter of local authorities now offering to dispose of unwanted cars for free.

And as part of the crackdown, 130 councils will also dispose of vehicles for free during a two-week amnesty in January in partnership with ENCAMS - the charity behind the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

'Neighbourhood blight'

Minister for Urban Policy Keith Hill said: "Nuisance vehicles, whether abandoned, untaxed or unlicensed, blight neighbourhoods across the country.

"They damage our environment and our communities and they attract criminal damage, vandalism and arson. They also divert public money from other important local services."

He added: "Drivers have a personal responsibility to dispose of their vehicles safely. Simply dumping cars will not be tolerated.

"Only by working together can we stop this disturbing trend, and improve where we live, for the benefit of all."

Kevin Delaney, head of traffic and road safety at the RAC foundation, said: "We wholeheartedly support the initiative.

"Illegally abandoned cars are not only an eyesore, an environmental and social problem, they are a potential death-trap for children who play in and around them.

"People who abandon cars in public places show a callous disregard not only for the law but for all of us who have to confront the result of their grossly anti-social behaviour."





SEE ALSO:
Scheme mashes abandoned bangers
22 Nov 04 |  London
Council's blitz on abandoned cars
14 Nov 04 |  Lincolnshire
Police seize abandoned vehicles
10 Nov 04 |  Merseyside


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