TOW trucks could be strategically placed in known problems areas to quickly remove vehicles blocking roads during peak days in summer.

As previously reported Dorset Council says it is keen to get the message out that it will not hesitate to use its powers to impound offending vehicles – after last year’s traffic chaos in some areas, notably Lulworth and Studland and parts of Bournemouth, as some drivers abandoned their vehicles in an attempt to get to the beach.

Now Dorset councillors have backed a new policy which they say will promoted a consistent approach to removing vehicles where they are in contravention of traffic orders.

The powers previously existed – but were seldom used because the number of incidents were rare prior to the pandemic, with only five cases in 2020.

Councillors on the place and resources overview committee on Tuesday were told that the new policy, expected to be finally approved at Cabinet later this month, and will apply to both roads and car parks.

Cllr Sherry Jespersen said that while she welcomes the power to tow away offending vehicles better publicity will be needed to ensure visitors are aware that they could be at risk for poor parking, prior to their arrival in Dorset.

“We want policies which have heft. This is a slightly new problem for Dorset…and it will only work as a deterrent if people know about it. If people are driving down from Birmingham or London they need to know about it,” she said.

She also called on the council not to forget other vehicle problems – of abandoned cars and obstruction which upset residents throughout the year.

The meeting heard that this bank holiday weekend had not resulted in any incidents where tow away was thought necessary, although the area’s beaches had been busy.

Councillors heard that the timescale for removing offending vehicles would depend on need - on busy days the council could arrange to have tow trucks at hot-spot sites, ready at a moment’s notice, which in other areas it might take longer.

While council wardens will still have to issue tickets as part of the process the removal of vehicles will be done by a private contractor, working for the authority.

A list of incidents where vehicles can be towed away includes fraudulent use of a disabled blue badge, parking in a disabled bay when not entitled to, using fraudulent parking permits, tickets or scratch cards and causing an obstruction.

The council is lobbying the Government to have the fees it can charged increased – these are currently capped at £40 for the release of an immobilised vehicle, £105 for vehicle removal, £12 per day storage and £50 for vehicle disposal. In each case the original penalty fee will also be added.

The committee heard that in some cases the charges were unlikely to cover the full costs of bringing in a contractor.

It backed the policy order, with minor changes, recommending Cabinet approve it.