Illegally parked cars in Dorset liable to be towed away under new rules

Following the introduction of vehicle tow away zones in Studland and Lulworth, Dorset Council is now set to introduce a tow away policy across its entire area including places like Swanage and Corfe Castle.

While the council has had the right to remove illegally parked vehicles in the past, it’s never before acted on its powers.

Now it’s looking to pass a new policy and has signed contracts with four private vehicle recovery companies.

Cars parked in Ferry Road in Studland
Swanage Coastguard

Parked cars blocked Ferry Road in Studland in 2020 but now it’s a tow away zone for 2021

“Significant rise in inappropriate parking”

At the Dorset Council’s Place and Resources Overview committee on Monday 1st June 2021, a report was presented to councillors by Dorset Council’s head of highways, Jack Wiltshire. Speaking at the meeting he said:

“We’ve recently seen a significant rise in inappropriate parking that has created a safety risk. Two areas that caused concern last year was the area round Durdle Door and Ferry Road over at Studland. In both cases people were parking on the road in such a way that they were causing an obstruction to other highway users and blue light services.

“We now have traffic regulation orders in place at these two locations and with the approval of this report we’ll be able to remove all vehicles that obstruct the highway.”

Cars parked on streets in Swanage

Cars parked on double yellow lines near Costcutter in the High Street in Swanage can be an obstruction

Removal of vehicles

The new policy will enable the removal of vehicles that are parked in contravention of on-street and off-street parking restrictions in the following circumstances:

  • Persistent evader vehicles found parked in contravention
  • Fraudulent use of disabled persons parking blue badges or an article that purports to be a disabled blue badge
  • Parked in a disabled persons parking bay without displaying a disabled blue badge
  • Parked using a fraudulent permit, scratch card or pay and display parking ticket; inclusive of cashless parking sessions and virtual permits
  • Parked in a manner that causes serious obstruction to emergency services and other highway users
Signs for Lulworth tow away zone
Dorset Council

New tow away zone sign in Lulworth

“The signage is already a good deterrent”

However, removing a vehicle costs more than the amount that Dorset Council is allowed to charge an owner of a vehicle to get it back, so it was made clear in the meeting that towing away vehicles wouldn’t be a regular occurrence and would mainly be deployed to remove vehicles that were causing safety issues.

Jack Wiltshire said:

“It’s not something we expect to be doing frequently – it is a deterrent… We’ve just had a busy weekend which had good weather. We have tow away zones clearly labelled at Lulworth, Durdle Door and over at Studland and we’ve not got into the situation where people have physically blocked roads with cars, whereas last year we were seeing that.

“It looks like the signage is already a good deterrent but it does need to have teeth behind it, otherwise that may not be continued.”

He also revealed that over the recent Bank Holiday weekend, approximately 550 penalty charge notices were issued across the Dorset Council area.

Fees and charges

The fees and charges for vehicle removal, storage and/or disposal of vehicles removed are:

  • £40 for release of immobilised vehicle
  • £105 for vehicle removal
  • £12 per day vehicle storage or each day or part day during which the vehicle is impounded
  • £50 vehicle disposal

In addition the vehicle owner will have to pay the cost of the penalty charge notice.

Cars parked on streets in Swanage

Where the High Street in Swanage narrows near the Town Hall, the double yellow line was extended to prevent parked cars making it difficult for emergency vehicles to get through

“Anywhere in the council area”

Councillor Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said:

“We’re introducing two tow away zones this summer – at West Lulworth and Studland – and we have guidelines in place for how these will operate, but we want a policy for how we tow away vehicles contravening restrictions anywhere in the council area, in order to deal with them consistently.

“This will also make the consequences clear to drivers choosing to park illegally, as well as informing our enforcement officers, undertaking their duties to keep our network clear from obstructions.”

The committee recommended the report for approval with minor alterations. It will now go to the next Dorset Council cabinet meeting for ratification.

Further information

Read the full draft immobilisation and removal of vehicles parked in contravention of on-street and off-street parking places policy

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