CRITICS have attacked Portsmouth’s ‘ludicrous’ parking strategy after it took nine months to move a car which appeared to have been abandoned.
Resident Jamie Hibbard said his complaints to the council about a yellow Volkswagen Beetle car parked in Byron Road, Buckland, fell on deaf ears – as parking bosses said a law prevented them from checking the registration plate to see if it was taxed because it was under a cover.
But after looking into the matter himself, Mr Hibbard discovered that the car should not have been allowed on a public highway and could have been moved all along.
Mr Hibbard, of nearby Queen’s Road, first reported the vehicle – which had three flat tyres – in May last year. He said the car was preventing others from getting into spaces and forcing them on to double yellow lines. Yet the council said it had to adhere to DVLA guidelines on a covered vehicle and couldn’t do anything – even though the car would have got a ticket in a residents’ parking zone.
It was only last month, when the cover blew off the vehicle and Mr Hibbard again raised the issue, that the parking team stepped in and arranged for the owner of the car to move it on.
Mr Hibbard said: ‘In the high winds, the cover seemed to have blown off. So I took the registration plate down, and used the DVLA’s database to check it, and found out the MoT ran out in September 2014, and the car was marked as Sorn (Statutory Off Road Notification) – so it shouldn’t have been on the road.
It just goes to show that if you want to leave your car on the road anywhere in the city, all you need to do is cover it up.Resident Jamie Hibbard
‘It had three flat tyres and was in a right old state, and that was what I reported in the first place. It just goes to show that if you want to leave your car on the road anywhere in the city, all you need to do is cover it up.’
Lib Dem leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It’s ludicrous. Everybody knows within this city, parking is a real problem. Every space is vital.
‘So to leave this car for almost a year seems really inadequate. The council tried to get rid of a parking zone for residents in one area, and wouldn’t allow residents who wanted their zones to keep them. We have been given no sight of a city parking review, it’s a real mess.’
Alan Cufley, director of transport, environment and business support at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We investigated the suspected abandoned vehicle when it was first reported. However, as an owner was identified it was not considered abandoned and no further action was taken.
‘We appreciate it is frustrating when vehicles appear to be left on the road for a long time and we will always take necessary action when we are legally able to. If a vehicle is covered, the DVLA guidelines are clear that we are not allowed to lift the cover to check if a vehicle is taxed.’
Guidelines over registration and abandoned vehicles
THE DVLA confirmed that all cars must have a visible registration plate when on the public highway.
Guidelines state that councils have a duty to recover abandoned vehicles on the road and on open land – and can legally enter land at a reasonable time to investigate and remove them.
But in the case with the yellow Beetle it was ruled the vehicle was not abandoned as it had an owner.
Authorities can also rule that a vehicle is abandoned if is stationary for a significant amount of time or if they’re significantly damaged, run down or unroadworthy - with flat tyres, wheels removed or broken windows.