Sunday, June 8, 2008

Getting abandoned cars removed

A car cannot be treated as abandoned and towed by Council if it is still registered.  Council also can't tow it away until the Police have visited the car, checked the rego and removed the license plates.

The registration sticker on this car is from 2005, and it has not moved for at least 6 months.  I have reported it to Council twice, but it still hasn't moved.  That could be because the car is in fact still registered, but the owner has not attached the proper registration sticker (something that can earn you a $71 fine), or the Police have not gotten around to visiting it for any number of reasons.

I have discovered that the process goes something like this:

- You, the citizen, report the car to Council, stating its location (down to street number), colour, make and model and registration number.

- That information is printed out and given to a Council ranger, who visits the car to confirm the details.  On three occasions in the last 12 months, a ranger has called me to verify details of abandoned cars because not all the information that I provided was passed on.  For some reason, they always seem to check on abandoned cars on a Saturday, when the Council offices are closed and there is no one there to look up the details that they require.

- The ranger then fills out a form, which is sent to the local Police station.  The Police then check the registration and visit the car and remove the number plates if it has expired.  On one occasion, I was visiting my local Police station and noticed a stack of these forms hiding behind the computer monitor on the front desk.  I asked the Constable on duty if he was going to process those forms when things were quiet, and his answer was, "What forms?"  It's just so easy for paperwork to slip between the cracks.  Unless your Council has a really solid records management system that flags things for follow up, the forms could be lost and nothing ever done about the abandoned car.  

- The Police notify the Council, the ranger revisits the car and attaches a sticker saying it will be towed in 14 days.

- At some point in the next 3 months or so, the car is towed (I have seen cars sitting on the side of the road for a lot longer than 14 days with the tow-away sticker attached).

When I find an abandoned car, I take a close up photo of the car to get the number plate correct and I take another photo showing where it is on the street (and I try and include a street sign or house number).  That makes it easier for the rangers to find it.

I also take a close up photo of the registration sticker, showing the date the registration expired.  You have a pretty clear cut case if you can tell Council that the registration expired on 7 May 2005, and have a photo to prove it.

I generally report abandoned cars in the Canada Bay area via the Council web site, but I am going to report this one for the third time via a letter with photos included.  I've reported quite a few cars via the web site without a problem, but this one just won't go away - hence the escalation to a letter.

Not all Councils are that up to date with their IT systems.  Most Councils appear to have a general email box for this sort of thing, but you can never be sure that it is being monitored by someone, or that your email hasn't been lost in a flood of spam.  If you're unsure, spend fifty cents on a letter.  I've used that approach on Leichhardt Council twice, and both cars have been towed away quickly.


General Manager

Leichhardt Municipal Council
P.O Box 45
Leichhardt NSW 2040

14 February 2008 

Dear Sir

 Abandoned vehicle – McCleer St, Rozelle

 I am writing to report an abandoned vehicle that is parked near the corner of McCleer and Springside Streets, Rozelle. 

The registration is NZQ 658. 

The vehicle is a light brown Commodore station wagon. 

According to the registration sticker, the registration expired on 12 May 2007. 

The vehicle has been sitting in McCleer St for at least 3 months.

 Yours sincerely

Not somebody else's problem

No comments: