Towing Away of Vehicles Was Not Illegal

I mentioned in a previous blog post the claim by the Daily Mail that charging for removing vehicles by Councils was illegal from 1991 (see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2021/04/05/towing-away-of-vehicles-was-illegal/ ).

I wrote to the London Borough of Camden on this issue and have received the following response:

“I understand, having read your letter, that you believe Camden’s powers to remove and charge for a removal were unlawful at this time [in 2005].

Following the publication within the daily mail, we approached the department for transport (DfT) to outline our concerns regarding the article and potential implications for us and other councils. Additionally we set out our reasons why we did not agree with the position in the explanatory note regarding the ability for local authorities to charge for vehicle removals, storage and disposal.  It was our belief that whilst sections 99-102 of the RTRA 1984 are not the simplest to follow, the legislation needs to be read as a whole to understand the full procedure and all aspects of the process that were covered.

We received a response from DfT that supports our view that local authorities’ powers to charge for the removal, storage and disposal of vehicles remain and were not inadvertently removed and that Sections 102(2) and 102(2A) still exist.

Specifically they stated that section 102(2) RTRA by section 68 Road Traffic Act 1991 were largely undone by the changes subsequently made to section 102(2) by Paragraph 4(2) of Schedule 11 to the TMA 2004. None of these changes as far as they can see had removed a local authority’s power to charge for removal, storage or disposal of a vehicle.

In light of this, it would appear that the explanatory note on page 19 (paragraph 83) is incorrect with respect to borough powers.

Therefore, I do believe the removal of your vehicle was conducted lawfully at the time”.

Having looked at the relevant legislation, which is exceedingly complicated and difficult to understand, it is certainly not clear that there was any intention to remove the power to charge for vehicle removal.

I have therefore accepted Camden Council’s explanation.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Towing Away of Vehicles Was Illegal

The Daily Mail has reported that for many years the removal (towing away) of vehicles as part of parking enforcement operations was not covered by legislation. They say: “An incredible legal gaffe could result in millions of motorists launching appeals against parking penalties handed out over the past 30 years. Enforcement powers relied on by police and local authorities were accidentally deleted from the statute book, the Mail can reveal today. Powers to charge motorists for removing and impounding vehicles were introduced in 1984 but were ‘inadvertently removed due to a drafting error’ in 1991 – and no one noticed until now”.

Some London boroughs such as Hackney and Camden (Hackney towed away 14,673 vehicles from 2011 to 2015 alone) were very active in using this procedure.

As someone who suffered from this pernicious practice in circa 2005 – towed away for slightly overstaying in a parking bay – I have sent the London Borough of Camden a letter requesting a refund of the several hundreds of pounds in charges. I will advise any result in due course.

This practice has been abandoned by most councils except for extreme situations such as causing an obstruction, but it was always a very dubious procedure. In my case the tow company also caused damage to my vehicle which they denied doing.

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9431497/Millions-towed-away-drivers-claw-fines-laws-left-statute-book-30-years.html for the Mail article.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using the Contact page (see under the About tab) to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.