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Abandoned car false alarms ‘wasting hours of Redbridge enforcement officers’ time’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 October 2016

Enforcement officers Awais Shahzada and Ammanuel Asfaw with reporter Matt Clemenson on a patrol in Ilford town centre. Redbridge Council wants to ban spitting, street drinking and deficating in Ilford.

Enforcement officers Awais Shahzada and Ammanuel Asfaw with reporter Matt Clemenson on a patrol in Ilford town centre. Redbridge Council wants to ban spitting, street drinking and deficating in Ilford.

Archant

Redbridge enforcement officers responded to more than 2,500 incorrect reports of abandoned cars, it has been revealed.

Speaking at a meeting of the Redbridge Safer Neighbourhood board in Ilford on Thursday night, Cllr Ross Hatfull, cabinet member for civic pride, gave a brief rundown on the performance of the enforcement team in its first year.

According to statistics he provided, the 15 officers on the team have been responsible for 812 fixed penalty notices, more than 3,000 final warning letters to residents for a variety of issues and 39 community protection warnings for anti-social behaviour.

But perhaps the most standout figure was the news that officers had responded to 2,617 calls to abandoned cars over the last 12 months, 70 per cent of which were not abandoned, and only 4 per cent of which were removed.

Lamenting the waste of officers’ time this represented, Cllr Hatfull insisted that steps were in place to make Redbridge residents better at spotting truly abandoned cars.

Speaking after the meeting. Cllr Hatfull told the Recorder: “It’s just about residents making absolutely sure before they report any vehicle to us that they know it is abandoned.

“We have had thousands of call outs to supposedly abandoned cars but only a tiny percentage of them are actually abandoned and that means that we are wasting hours of enforcement officers’ time.

“If residents suspect they may have spotted a car that they think is owned by neighbours or nearby businesses then they shouldn’t phone it in.”

The councillor also revealed at the meeting that the discontinuation of road tax discs had led to the number of reports of abandoned cars in Redbridge doubling.

Where before watchful residents would immediately recognise that cars with up-to-date road tax discs were still in use, now they have no such way of being able to tell.

However, the cabinet member did recommend a solution.

He said: “People can, very easily, go online and check that a car is still registered and taxed properly, and if that is the case then they don’t need to phone it in to the council.”

For the full report, be sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Ilford Recorder, on sale from Thursday.

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