Drivers fined over Â£80,000 as cars towed away for Sheffield road improvement works
Hundreds of cars have been towed away from Sheffield streets since the city's road improvement programme began '“ costing residents at least Â£80,000 in fines.
New figures obtained by The Star show around 600 drivers have had their vehicles towed away and been made to pay fines of a minimum of £140 to get them back since 2012.
Cars have been moved away to allow council contractor Amey’s Streets Ahead scheme to take place across the city.
The worst-affected street was Huntingtower Road in Greystones, where 16 vehicles were removed so workers could resurface the road.
Council bosses said towing vehicles is a ‘last resort’ which the authority makes no money from.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 592 cars have been towed away across the city since the Streets Ahead programme began in 2012.
Figures showed 2014 was the worst year for removals, with 241 cars towed away.
The huge city-wide highways maintenance project to upgrade two-thirds of the city’s roads, pavements and streets lights has caused controversy with residents who have had their cars towed complaining about changes in timetabling for some of the works meaning they were not aware their vehicles needed to be moved away.
Those who have their cars towed are fined £35 if they pay within a fortnight and have to pay a further £105 release fee to get their car back. Sheffield Council said these figures are set by the Government.
For every day the vehicle remains in storage, motorists have to pay an extra £12 per day.
Council bosses say money generated goes towards paying for the removal service delivered by The Mansfield Group on Parkway Drive rather than generating a profit for the local authority.
Councillor Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for the environment, said: “We understand residents’ frustrations in having their cars towed away, and this is regrettable, but we have always asked for their cooperation in carrying out the Streets Ahead works.”
He said the council ‘do as much as possible’ to alert residents, including sending out letters and putting out warning signs.
He added: “On the day, if cars still remain in place the Streets Ahead team will door knock to try and find car owners. The majority of residents pay attention to the signs and move their cars when needed, and we thank them for this.
“Those residents who do not adhere to the signs will unfortunately have their cars towed away. This is always a last resort.”
Coun Lodge urged people to ensure cars on affected streets are moved so work can progress.
Sarah Swann, whose car was towed away on Fulney Road in Nether Green in 2014 after a roadworks date sign was changed while she was away, said she believed others whose cars were towed would have been in a similar situation to her.
She said: “I’m not surprised at the numbers but it is outrageous.”
She said she had eventually managed to get her fine refunded by the council after going through an appeal process that lasted for months.
In August 2014, people living near to Huntingtower Road in Greystones - where 16 vehicles were removed - said cars were towed away after the work was delayed and people didn’t believe it was going to start.
But one resident living on the street said today there had been ‘lots of notice’.
He said: “Almost everybody did move their cars. I don’t think the fees were extortionate if you got your car towed, because the signage was really clear and notice was given.”