DUMPED and abandoned vehicles are causing carloads of problems for Tamworth Regional Council.
During the 10 days of the country music festival, four cars were discarded around the city – in Crown St, Brisbane St, Johnston St and on Scott Rd.
What many don’t realise, though, is that ratepayers foot the bill for the vehicles to be moved, if their owners can’t be found.
Among the four vehicles was a white Ford Falcon station wagon, which, until last Tuesday night, sat idle in a car parking space outside The Leader building in Brisbane St for almost three weeks before it was removed.
No parking tickets were issued and no registration plates were left on it.
Council environment and health manager Ken Reid said the council had worked with police to identify the owner of the station wagon in the lead-up to it being removed.
“Council is not legally able to remove a vehicle – even one which appears to have been abandoned – unless it presents a danger to the public or is an obstacle to traffic,” he said.
Police assessed the station wagon and, because it wasn’t considered to be a risk to safety, they did not have to move it.
As a result it became a problem for the council.
As part of usual process, police and the council work together to try and find the owner of the car.
“The owner will then be given a statutory notice instructing them to remove the vehicle,” Mr Reid said.
“If it is not removed 14 days after the notice is given, council can then legally remove the vehicle.”
In the case of the station wagon, the owner could not be contacted and the vehicle was removed by a tow truck to the council’s impound yard, where it will stay for 28 days.
Cars that land in the impound yard and are valued at less than $500 are sent to a wrecking yard.
Those valued at more than $500 and are assessed as being suitable for sale are disposed of at public auction.
The cost of towing an abandoned car and taking it to the impounding yard at Tamworth’s Forest Rd landfill varies.
For vehicles in Tamworth it is about $60, but for those in other parts of the region it can cost hundreds of dollars.
During 2012, 107 complaints were fielded by the council about abandoned vehicles.