Action call on rural lorry ‘bedlam’

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Published: Saturday 20th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Lorry drivers ignoring weight-restriction bans on minor roads are “bringing bedlam” to villages, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

Rural communities have been blighted by a recent spate of lorry crashes, the LGA said.

Lorries of a certain weight or width are banned from many minor roads but the LGA says police do not always have the resources to enforce the restrictions.

The LGA added that the Government had handed powers to local authorities in Wales and London to take action if lorry drivers break the law.

It said councils across the country must also be given the ability to enforce weight and width restrictions in their communities.

It cited a number of recent incidents:

:: Four police officers and a Bulgarian translator were needed to help a driver who brought mayhem to the tranquil village of Iwade in Kent after wrapping his lorry around a tree;

::. A 40ft (12m) articulated beer truck operator cannoned off houses in the picturesque Devon village of Uffculme in the early hours of the morning, after apparently misjudging a narrow street, bringing power lines crashing down;

:: A driver was led astray by his satnav and ended up stuck in a narrow country lane in Ivybridge, near Plymouth in Devon. He had to sleep in his cab for three nights before a tractor was able to pull him out.

LGA transport spokesman Peter Box said: “There has been a spate of accidents involving lorry drivers driving irresponsibly and bringing bedlam to small rural communities – and action must be taken immediately to curb this.

“Councils are doing everything they can to help their residents, but they are trying to take action with one hand tied behind their back and urgently need tougher powers.”

There are clear penalties for exceeding HGV weight limits. In 2014 the fixed penalty notice for lorries that ignore weight restrictions was increased by 66% to £50.

Infringements judged as particularly serious can be taken to court, where penalties can be a lot higher.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “The Government welcomes the fact that local authorities are taking this issue seriously and working closely with communities.

“The police already have the necessary power to take action where it is needed, and there are no plans at present to give local authorities greater powers to enforce moving traffic contraventions.”

Freight Transport Association urban logistics head Christopher Snelling said: “We fully support enforcement of weight and width restrictions and actively help our members to adhere to these with regular updates on regulations and industry innovations.

“Transferring responsibility for policing these restrictions to local residents would be fraught with problems because most would not have the relevant knowledge to make judgements.”

Published: Saturday 20th June 2015 by The News Editor

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