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Plan to tackle illegal car sales

PUBLISHED: 09:41 31 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:03 03 July 2010

No trading zones could be created to tackle the problem of cars being sold on Norfolk roads.

Norfolk County Council has been struggling to take enforcement action against cars and other vehicles for sale which are littering highways.

No trading zones could be created to tackle the problem of cars being sold on Norfolk roads.

Norfolk County Council has been struggling to take enforcement action against cars and other vehicles for sale which are littering 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. If it is taxed but not insured, the police can impound it and crush it or sell it on.

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

Councillors set up a working party of council officers to look into solutions to the problem and will see their report at a meeting of the council's planning, transportation, environment and waste overview and scrutiny panel on January 5..

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 Regulation 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 hotspots 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 would have to give their details.

Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “I think it is a localised problem in some of the towns and in Norwich.

“People selling their cars in their gardens or drives aren't a problem, but these are traders who move about and it's very difficult to track them down.

“We are looking at various options, but they need to be proportionate and cost-effective. It is a very antisocial thing and we are doing what we can to tackle it.”

In Waveney, people selling dangerous vehicles from Lowestoft's verges were caught in the act just before Christmas thanks to a crackdown by a partnership of local agencies, which saw prohibitions placed on three vehicles which were in a dangerous condition and unfit for use on the road.

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