Councils call for new powers to tackle lorry scourge

Councils have called for more powers to tackle lorries causing “havoc and mayhem” in towns and villages in England.

The Local Government Association (LGA) highlighted a spate of incidents in recent months involving heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) which have crashed into bridges or blocked streets after driving on routes which are unsuitable for their size or weight.

A survey by the organisation indicated that more than half of councils say this is one of the most important traffic issues in their communities.

Many incidents involve drivers being directed to unsuitable routes by their sat navs.

Recent examples of the chaos caused by lorries include:

– A bridge under Middlesbrough railway station was struck four times in a few weeks earlier this year;

– Police in Ilminster, Somerset, issued warnings to HGV drivers after reports of weight limits being exceeded;

– Residents in the Kent village of Goudhurst called for action after lorries blocked the same road twice in two days in March;

The LGA wants all local authorities to be able to issue fines to lorry drivers who ignore road restrictions. In England, these powers are currently only available to councils in London.

A lorry stuck under a low bridge
A lorry stuck under a low bridge

Those wanting to tackle HGVs being driven on inappropriate routes outside the capital are limited to measures such as organising lorry watch schemes and communicating with freight and haulage companies.

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett said: “Councils are on the side of motorists, and are doing everything they can to improve our roads, tackle congestion and enhance safety, but want to be able to do more.

“The spate of accidents we have seen involving lorries blocking streets, damaging local areas and crashing into bridges on an all too regular basis shows that action needs to be taken by Government in the upcoming spending round.

“With powers to enforce moving traffic violations also given to councils outside of London and Wales, they could act to prevent disruption by the minority of rogue lorry drivers that incorrectly use weight restricted roads through our towns and villages and cause havoc and mayhem on our local roads.

“They would also help councils unblock congestion hotspots that delay buses, lengthen journey times and reduce pollution from stationary and slow-moving traffic, and help cyclists ride more safely.”