New powers to fine 'reckless' lorry drivers urged
Councils have called for new powers to fine "reckless" lorry drivers who are causing disruption in rural communities.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, described the process of taking lorry drivers to court when they ignore weight restrictions as expensive and time-consuming.
Police already have the power to issue fines, but the LGA claimed this only has a limited effect because their resources are often stretched in rural areas.
The organisation claimed that any surplus from fines could be used by councils to help tackle the "£12 billion pothole backlog".
There have been a number of incidents involving lorries in villages in recent months.
A lorry crashed into four cottages and partially demolished a historic bridge in Cadeleigh, Devon, in June last year.
Last month a lorry became wedged in a street in Walkern, Hertfordshire, after its driver claimed he was directed there by a satnav.
A road in Milton Malsor, Northamptonshire was closed in November when a container was knocked off the back of a lorry as it passed under a low bridge.
LGA transport spokesman Peter Box commented: "The actions of a minority of reckless lorry drivers inflicted on rural communities underline the need for councils to be given proper powers to deal with this increasing problem.
"If these drivers know they will face fines they will think twice about such selfish and irresponsible behaviour.
"Councils are doing everything they can to help their residents by taking rogue lorry drivers to court. However, it is a time-consuming, costly and bureaucratic process and there is no guarantee councils will even be able to recoup their prosecution costs.
"We are calling for a streamlined system which allows councils to fine lorry drivers who persistently blight communities. Councils want to be able to respond to their residents' concerns."
He added that most lorry drivers are "reputable" and stressed that the powers would be targeted at "the minority who do not follow the law".