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Bid to tackle roadside car sales

PUBLISHED: 15:30 01 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:56 01 July 2010

Cars for sale on the side of the road in Mile Cross.pictured on Rye Avenue.

Cars for sale on the side of the road in Mile Cross.pictured on Rye Avenue.

The issue of up-for-sale cars blighting our roads could be tackled by creating no-trading zones, after officers at Norfolk County Council were tasked with finding a solution to the problem.

The issue of up-for-sale cars blighting our roads could be tackled by creating no-trading zones, after officers at Norfolk County Council were tasked with finding a solution to the problem.

The county council has been struggling to take enforcement action against cars and other vehicles which are left up for sale on Norfolk's highways.

This is because, under the present procedure, the council has to contact the owners of the vehicles to ask if they will remove them, before legal action can be taken.

If a vehicle is untaxed it is reported to the DVLA and can be clamped, impounded and destroyed if not claimed, while if it is taxed but not insured the police can impound it and crush it or sell it on.

But officers are struggling to obtain the details of the vendors, who often hang up when the council officer calls them or refuse to reveal the information, making it very difficult for the council to take legal action to get the vehicles removed.

Councillors asked an officer working party was set up to look into possible solutions to the problem and members of the county council's planning, transportation, environment and waste overview and scrutiny panel will next week hear possible solutions.

John Eastgate, area manager for planning and transportation at County Hall, said: “The nature of trading on the highway has changed significantly in the last few years. Whereas it tended to be recognised traders that were using the highway to advertise cars, increasingly the sellers are unauthorised businesses, with no permanent premises, who leave a contact number. These telephone numbers constantly change and cannot be traced.”

A possible solution includes having county council officers pose as potential buyers to find out who the vendors are, but that would require consent under the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Act, which would only be granted if a crime has been committed and if the proposed action is deemed appropriate.

An alternative would be to create “no trading zones” at known hot-spots which could then be enforced once civil parking enforcement is transferred to the county council.

Another solution which could be considered is to serve penalty charge notices on the vehicles, which would see them clamped and the owner charged to remove the clamp, which would mean they have to give their details.

It is not the first time the authorities have tried to tackle the problem. The county council has had a number of crackdowns over the years, and in January 2005 Norwich City Council was given the power to issue enforcement notices to vehicles illegally parked on verges in the city.

Owners of cars who repeatedly failed to heed warnings have had their cars towed away in a bid to keep verges clear. Some of the city's most notorious hotspots include Drayton Road, Ipswich Road, Hall Road and Chartwell Road.

Do you think more needs to be done to remove vehicles which are left up for sale on the county's roads? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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