Q&As

What powers are there for a local council to remove an abandoned vehicle (with no tax, insurance or MOT) parked on a public footpath and obstructing the highway? Does the responsibility for removing such a vehicle lie with the council or the police?

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Produced in partnership with Rosalind Andrews of Harrison Clark Rickerbys
Published on LexisPSL on 30/11/2016

The following Local Government Q&A produced in partnership with Rosalind Andrews of Harrison Clark Rickerbys provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What powers are there for a local council to remove an abandoned vehicle (with no tax, insurance or MOT) parked on a public footpath and obstructing the highway? Does the responsibility for removing such a vehicle lie with the council or the police?
  • Local Highways Authority’s duties and powers
  • Police’s duties and powers
  • District and Borough Council’s duties and powers
  • Public Nuisance and Criminal Liability

What powers are there for a local council to remove an abandoned vehicle (with no tax, insurance or MOT) parked on a public footpath and obstructing the highway? Does the responsibility for removing such a vehicle lie with the council or the police?

Local authorities and the police both have the power to remove abandoned vehicles from highways, however, the duties and powers differ depending on the public body and the circumstances in which the vehicle has been abandoned.

Local Highways Authority’s duties and powers

A County Council, in common with other Local Highways Authorities (LHAs), have a number of duties and powers in its capacity as LHA. This includes a general duty to prevent, as far as possible, the obstruction of highways pursuant to section 130(3) of the Highways Act 1980 (as amended) (HiA 1980).

There is some debate as to the extent of this duty and what actions a LHA is required to take to discharge it, as the statute does not provide any instruction as to what powers should be used to remove obstructions. There is therefore an element of discretion as to the steps a LHA can choose to take to remove an unlawful obstruction on the highway.

The exception to this is

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