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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 17:45 GMT
Tough new stance on dumped cars
An abandoned car
A tough new line on the problem of abandoned cars has been unveiled by the government.

Now vehicles abandoned by their owners on public streets instead of disposed of in scrapyards could be removed within 24 hours.


Dumped cars are in increasing eyesore on our streets and a real danger to children who attracted to them as play grounds

Stephen Byers
About 350,000 vehicles were abandoned in the UK last year and the problem is intensifying, largely because of a collapse in the price of scrap metal.

Current legislation forces local councils to wait a week before removing wrecks.

In the case of vehicles deemed saleable they have to wait 21 days.

Under proposals unveiled on Wednesday by Stephen Byers those time restrictions could be slashed to 24 hours for wrecks and between a week to two weeks for vehicles which could be sold.

Crackdown

New powers to crack down and prosecute owners and offenders could also be introduced.

Mr Byers said: "Dumped cars are in increasing eyesore on our streets and a real danger to children who attracted to them as play grounds.

"Too often they are also a target for local arsonists. Our proposals published today aimed to get dumped cars off the street 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 is easier for people to get away with it."

Insufficient resources

But Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Don Foster said: "Many local authorities do not have the resources or the manpower to remove dumped cars even in the current time limits.

"Stephen Byers must recognise that he cannot increase the powers of local councils without adequate funding. We will not see an end to this scourge if the necessary funding is not there."

The number of dumped cars has increased by almost 70% in the past two years in some parts of the country, with about 1,000 vehicles abandoned daily.

Local councils bear the cost of removing cars from the streets and paying for their storage for up to 35 days to give owners a chance to collect them.

Scrap value

In the London Borough of Newham - where Mr Byers launched the new scheme - the council spent 340,000 last year removing 6,700 abandoned cars.

Motorists used to be offered between 20 and 30 for a car they wanted to scrap, but they are now expected to pay for the disposal themselves.

Transport Secretary Stephen Byers
Stephen Byers: emphasis on registration enforcement
The government is proposing a system to speed up the process of removing dumped vehicles from 35 days to 24 hours.

Mr Byers said cars which had no real value could be removed and disposed of quite quickly, but vehicles in good condition would be subject to the 35 day rule.

He also wants to improve vehicle registration enforcement, after revealing one million vehicles are currently unregistered.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"Some 1000 cars a day are getting dumped in Britain"
See also:

23 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Dumped car crackdown urged
24 Jun 99 | Europe
Scrap over car recycling
23 Aug 00 | Scotland
Cars dumped in street 'scrapyards'
Links to more UK Politics stories are at the foot of the page.


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