Be tough on car flips: Abandoned cars are a growing problem

Leave an idea to Joanne Murray. The 71-year-old widow struggled with her local council for two years to get an abandoned car off the road in front of her home.

But only last month, after Mrs. Murray pleaded with her local newspaper, the Blackpool Gazette, to highlight her plight, the car was finally removed — after 22 months of terminal illness and the eventual death of her husband.

And she is not alone.

Growing problem: 50 Boards Freedom of Information inquiries by Rivervale Leasing found 21,106 reports of abandoned vehicles during 2021

Across the country, tens of thousands of frustrated homeowners have to deal with an ordeal that goes unnoticed or ignored — unless, of course, you’re unfortunate enough to be affected by it.

cause lost

FOI inquiries to 50 councils by Rivervale Leasing (rivervale leasing.co.uk) found 21,106 reports of abandoned vehicles during 2021, with Ford Transit topping the list, followed by Ford Astra and Focus, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Golf.

The most important places for abandoned cars were Bradford, Milton Keynes, Barnet, Sheffield and Croydon.

Official DEFRA figures obtained by the Post said that during 2020/21 local authorities reported a total of 11,075 abandoned vehicles on public lands in England alone.

However, this is likely just the tip of the ice as it only counts those that have already been removed and destroyed by local authorities.

Mrs. Murray’s fight began in September 2020 when a blue Vauxhall was left parked outside her home – with a handwritten note on the dashboard saying it had broken down.

Her husband, Michael, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, called Blackpool Council a month later and was told the car was DVLA registered as SORN — which stands for Off-Road Legal Notice.

This means that it is not allowed to park or drive on a public highway because the road tax is not valid, although it can be taken off the road on private land.

Time passed but nothing happened – until Mrs. Murray raised the matter with her local newspaper.

And then, almost miraculously, the abandoned, non-taxable car disappeared. It is not clear who moved it.

call to action

The case highlights the frustration and difficulties residents and neighborhoods face when trying to take action on abandoned cars.

Local councils are increasingly enthusiastic about cracking down on ‘environmental crimes’ – which can range from putting out your bins a day ahead or putting the wrong waste items in the wrong recycling bin, to more dangerous dumping and flies crimes.

Top 10 Abandoned Car Hotspots 2021

  1. Bradford: 3561
  2. Milton Keynes: 1869
  3. Barnet: 1,846
  4. Sheffield: 1746
  5. Croydon: 1,548
  6. Leicester: 1434
  7. Newham: 1,106
  8. Southampton: 1,074
  9. Portsmouth: 1034
  10. Sunderland: 876

But are you looking for a solution to a two-ton rusting metal structure abandoned on a middle-class suburban street? do not hold your breath.

There’s an almost comical element to abandoned cars—like Alan Bennett’s The Lady In The Van, the playwright’s true story about a homeless former pianist who lived in a car that was allowed to park in his driveway.

I only realized the extent of the problem myself when an apparently abandoned car appeared on our street in Elmbridge’s leafy Surrey area in May and hasn’t budged since.

Now collecting dust, cobwebs and debris under its wheels, the 21-year-old Mercedes C270 blue diesel is being taxed until next May, but its MOT certification ran out in July. Then what to do? My own experience provides a quick glimpse of what is going on across the country.

First, I checked the basic details of the vehicle, which anyone can do exactly right, by entering the vehicle’s registration number into the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) online checker.

Then I visited Surrey Police – although the message is the same with the Metropolitan and other UK forces.

He tells us: “An abandoned vehicle is one that has not been moved or looked after for a long time. There may be visible damage indicating an accident, or signs that the vehicle has been stolen.

However, they stress: ‘Don’t take the law into your own hands by interfering, such as making physical threats or trying to move the car yourself. You may make the situation worse and even risk committing a crime yourself.

The police question-and-answer examination also shows that unlike in exceptional circumstances, this is a job for the local council, not the police.

The RAC (rac.co.uk) also advises: “You should only call the police if the vehicle is in a hazardous condition, such as leaking gasoline or containing hazardous materials such as gas bottles.”

Cars are likely to be dumped

tied in knots

So far, the MOT-less Merc has been reported three times via the council’s online abandoned car system, and I’ve had a series of automated responses saying it’s being considered.

But I went deeper, asking Elmbridge Borough Council directly what criteria they use to determine when or if a car is abandoned.

Like many boards, it said its law enforcement team received 311 reports of abandoned cars in 2021 compared to 536 in 2020 and 343 in 2019, about a third (30 percent) of which were confirmed as abandoned.

On average, it takes 14 days for the council to remove an abandoned vehicle from the time of first reporting.

Like the police, the council said it is following government guidelines to determine if a vehicle has been abandoned, noting that this is likely if one or more major criteria apply, namely: no registered guard; is not taxable fixed for an extended period of time; Seriously damaged, dilapidated, or drivable damage (for example, empty tires, missing wheels, or broken windows); Missing number plate.

It defines a “significant amount of time” as “possibly at least 28 days”.

Surprisingly, however, the absence of a MOT certification – the annual legally required vehicle fitness test – is not taken into account when determining whether a vehicle is “undriveable”.

But wouldn’t the police act if the car did not have a MOT certificate? Not if it’s parked, police say. It must be driven on the road to be cut off due to a moving traffic violation.

Therefore, as long as a car is taxed and parked, even if it is legally, as opposed to practically, “unfit to drive” it is effectively immune from prosecution by the police, or considered “abandoned” by the Board.

But RAC spokesman Simon Williams says action is needed to fill in the worrying gaps: “Abandoned cars are a nuisance we can do without, but removing them is sometimes a lot more difficult than it should be.

“Just because a car is taxed doesn’t mean it hasn’t been abandoned, especially if it hasn’t moved an inch in months — and it shouldn’t anyway because it doesn’t have an MOT.”

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