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Abandoned vehicles

Information about abandoned vehicles, reporting or reclaiming them and disposing of unwanted vehicles.

Abandoned vehicle

What is an abandoned vehicle?

An abandoned vehicle is one that has not moved from its location for a period determined by legislation under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978.  After this period the council will inspect and use a number of factors to establish if it has been abandoned.

The council has a duty under the provisions of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 (RDA) to remove abandoned vehicles. This concerns people abandoning without authority, a vehicle or parts of a vehicle, on any other land forming part of the highway, for such a period that it may reasonably be assumed to have been abandoned, OR brought to that land for the purpose of abandonment.

If in the council's opinion the vehicle is dangerous (for example, if it has been burnt out) then the vehicle can be removed immediately. If a car is thought to be abandoned, the council's Community and Environment Officers can take steps to identify and prosecute the legal owner.

To be truly abandoned, vehicles must meet a number of criteria as set out by the council with regard to:

  • the length of time left in one place and whether the car is being used, taking into account evidence such as car tax, the presence of parking tickets, and evidence from witnesses.
  • general condition of the car including tyres and brake discs. 
  • dirt or mould on vehicle.
  • if dirt has accumulated, or vegetation is growing beneath the car.
  • whether the car is dangerous.
  • if the windows are broken.
  • evidence of the vehicle having been stolen.

If, given the above criteria, a vehicle is thought to be abandoned, an officer will service notice by attaching a sticker to the side window of the vehicle. This will give the owner/keeper either 24 hours (an orange notice) or 7 days (a white notice), depending on the value of the vehicle, to claim it before the council can authorise its removal and destruction.

If a vehicle is deemed abandoned by officers, the council can prosecute, even if the car is subsequently claimed. Officers are also entitled to recover costs incurred in dealing with or removing vehicles. The RDA Act is supplemented by the Clean Neighbourhood Environment Act (CNEA) 2005 (s10-14). Section 10 permits officers to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for the offence of abandoning vehicles under the definitions given in the RDA Act. The CNEA generally makes the process for dealing with abandoned vehicles less complicated allowing swifter action.

Reporting an abandoned vehicle on the public highway or council land

If you would like to report an abandoned vehicle, please use our online report form or contact us. Please be aware that if you report an abandoned vehicle, you may be requested to provide a witness statement. This would be in support of your observation that the vehicle had been abandoned for the period you state, should an owner come forward to claim it.

Please note that we are unable to remove vehicles which hold current road tax. To check this before making a report, please contact the DVLA via their website or by letter to the nearest DVLA Enforcement Centre.

Reporting an abandoned vehicle on private land

Where a vehicle is on private land any request for it to be investigated would need to be made by the land owner.

If you are not the land owner you would instead need to report the vehicle directly to the land owner as they may have given permission for the vehicle to be stored on their land.

If you are the land owner and would like us to investigate a vehicle on your behalf, please note that we are unable to remove vehicles which hold current road tax. To check this before making a request, please contact the DVLA via their website or by letter to the nearest DVLA Enforcement Centre.

Where, given the above criteria, a vehicle is thought to be abandoned, requests for us to undertake an investigation on your behalf would need to be made to us in writing to the below address, including the make, model, colour and registration number of the vehicle, along with how long it has been in situ. It should also be noted that there is a charge of £50 to cover the investigation and potential removal of each vehicle reported.

Retrieving your vehicle

If your vehicle has been stickered by us as a potentially abandoned vehicle please contact us as soon as possible to avoid it being removed. 

If the council's contractors have already removed your vehicle it may be possible to retrieve it by contacting us. You will need to provide a current V5C registration certificate and documentation to confirm your identity to confirm you are the registered keeper.

Dangerously parked vehicles

Vehicles which are parked across driveways can be reported by the resident to the Parking Office on 01279 655261.
A Civil Enforcement Officer will visit the location and if the vehicle is deemed to be preventing access, they can issue a penalty charge notice.

For all other reports of vehicles parking dangerously, for example parking on junctions which impedes visibility, these should be reported to the Police on 101.

Removal of unwanted vehicles

Upon request the council will remove and destroy unwanted vehicles on behalf of registered keepers of vehicles located with the borough. There is a charge of £50.00 for this service. To arrange a collection please complete our pdf icon owner request form [110KB] and return this to us with the correct fee.

Reporting an untaxed vehicle

If you wish to report an untaxed vehicle, please contact the DVLA via their website or by letter to the nearest DVLA Enforcement Centre.

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