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Crack down on costly car dumpers

PUBLISHED: 21:03 02 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:27 03 March 2010

ABANDONED cars are "blighting" life for people in Suffolk as the rising cost of lawfully disposing of vehicles encourages more motorists to dump their vehicles, a top police officer has warned.

ABANDONED cars are "blighting" life for people in Suffolk as the rising cost of lawfully disposing of vehicles encourages more motorists to dump their vehicles, a top police officer has warned.

Speaking at an all-day seminar to tackle the growing menace of vehicle dumpers, Assistant Chief Constable, Colin Langham-Fitt, said police and councils would reverse the trend with a joint crack down.

"We have a very, very safe county in Suffolk. It's a pleasant place to live. When one of these [dumped cars] turns up on the village green it creates apprehension that crime has blighted life," he said. "It's been a growing problem for a while in recent years."

The public conception of abandoned vehicles is that they are a crime and disorder problem when really they are a litter issue, he said.

"We want to remove this element from people's lives to make them feel happier and better about the places they live."

The drop in value of scrap metal and the new government End-of-Life Vehicle Directive (better known as the Scrap Car Directive) – the next part of which comes into effect in April – make it increasingly costly to dispose of a car legally than dump it. The directive makes it the law to recycle a greater percentage of a vehicle at the end of its life.

"People are choosing in some cases just to abandon them," Mr Langham-Fitt said.

Police, county and district councils are now working together to make the economic cost of dumping a vehicle higher than disposing of it in a safe and lawful way.

"We're going to use the powers we have as effectively as we can," he said.

Car dumpers face fines of up to £2,500 or three months in prison. "Where [it] can be proven, they will be prosecuted," Mr Langham-Fitt added.

Among the items on the agenda at yesterday's seminar on abandoned vehicles was a change in legislation to crackdown on vehicle owners who sold their cars without registering the new owner, he said.

Malcolm Firth, head of environment services at Babergh District Council, said a scheme in the area meant the council would dispose of your car for £30. In contrast, the cost to the tax-payer of removing and disposing a dumped car was around £100.

"The council-tax payer foots the bill," he said. "It's you and me and everyone else. It's becoming a very grave problem for us."

Two years ago, around 200 vehicles were dumped in the district, Mr Firth said.


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