Some "abandoned" vehicles reported to Solihull Council turn out to be owned by holidaymakers ducking airport parking charges, it has been revealed.

Councillors have been told that drivers unwilling to fork out for a long stay ticket have been known to cause false alarms.

Paul Tovey, from the council's highways team, said: "Because we're quite close to the airport we do get a number of people phone up to say 'there's a vehicle parked outside my house, it's been there for seven days'.

"It turns out people have been on holiday and parked to avoid the parking charges, so those aren't genuine abandoned vehicles."

Birmingham Airport
 

A vehicle is deemed abandoned if it has been left by an owner who has no intention to recover or accept responsibility for it.

At his decision session last week, Cllr Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, approved a new policy for dealing with cases where a vehicle has been dumped in a public place.

The service also handles untaxed or burnt-out vehicles.

The new policy will link in with the introduction of an online reporting system, which aims to enable the local authority to take enforcement action more quickly.

It also outlines how the council will work alongside the DVLA to try and trace those responsible for abandoning a vehicle.

 

If a criminal offence has been committed then the culprit could be taken to court and face a fine of up to £2,500. Or under separate legislation, a fixed penalty notice, of up to £200, may be issued.

Mr Tovey had told the meeting that legal action required significant evidence, although the council would act where this was available.

"It's very difficult to actually prove that someone has actually genuinely abandoned a vehicle," he said.

"So we've got a word of caution around whether we take those legal cases, because it could actually end up costing us a lot more to get the case through the courts than we'd actually recover in the costs."

 
Burnt out car found
Burnt-out cars are covered by the council's policy.

Cllr Richards said: "Abandoned vehicles can be a real eyesore and pose a hazard to members of the public."

To report a suspected abandoned vehicle in Solihull, residents can call 0121 704 6111, email abandonedvehicles@solihull.gov.uk or visit the new reporting page at www.solihull.gov.uk