Towed away cars leave owners fuming at DVLA
The incident was one of two tow-aways which upset car owners last week.
Trevor Ashforth (53) had owned his Vauxhall Astra for just three days when it vanished from outside the office of his employers, Wilford Smith Solicitors, on Westgate — less than an hour after he parked it with his blue badge on display.
After contacting police, the legal professional found his car had been towed away and impounded due to an apparent lack of tax and insurance.
But Trevor had taxed and insured the car online two days before it disappeared suddenly last Monday and immediately headed across town with his paperwork to retrieve it.
“It turns out that the DVLA had not updated its systems and my car was flagged up as the tow truck passed,” he said.
“It’s all down to an error on a database.
“I managed to argue my case and get a £250 car retrieval fine waived, but I missed appointments and time in court.
“I’m fortunate that, although I have a blue badge, I’m not totally immobile and I could get in a taxi and argue my case.
“Many blue badge holders would have been left stranded and traumatised.”
Westgate-based Wilford Smith lists motoring law among its specialist areas of expertise.
Practice founder Stephen Smith said: “The DVLA need to get their house in order.”
The tow trucks from Rotherham Borough Council also upset sentimental Michael Brookes (54) after officials towed away a car he had inherited in a family member’s will.
Steelworker Michael said: “It’s been parked on the same paved, off-road area across from my house for the past year and I have a SORN certificate from the DVLA.
“I can’t understand why they have taken my car now and I can’t afford to pay £400 to get it back.”
Michael, of Wood Croft, Kimberworth Park, said that the car had belonged to his father’s partner, adding: “I just didn’t have the heart to sell it.”
Steve Finley, principal engineer for the borough council, said that the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system had alerted the authority to both vehicles.
Mr Finley said that the DVLA Online system and the DVLA WEE System had stated that the vehicle tax on Trevor’s car had been cancelled before the vehicle was “removed to the authority’s compound and the Police National Computer (PNC) was updated”.
He confirmed that his fees had been waived after he produced proof of his tax and insurance.
Mr Finley said that Michael’s Toyota was towed away as it was it was “an untaxed vehicle located on the highway”.
He added: “The road and parking areas of Wood Croft, Kimberworth, are all adopted highway and so any untaxed and/or SORN vehicles are authorised for removal.”
Mr Finley added: “We would advise that owners should keep a printed confirmation of the tax in the windscreen of a vehicle for a couple of days and if they are taking their vehicles off the road they should check with the authority as to whether the land is part of the public highway.”