Motorists have been forced to fork out almost £50,000 in fines after their vehicles were towed during road improvement works in Sheffield.
The figures, revealed through The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign, show 345 vehicles have been towed in 18 months while road resurfacing work was carried out as part of the Streets Ahead scheme.
Motorists have been made to pay at least £48,300 between January 2013 – when the contract to resurface streets, replace lights and improve pavements began – and August this year.
The biggest number of vehicles towed from a single street came in May 2103, when 11 cars were towed from Lawson Road in Broomhill.
Residents who have their vehicles towed have to pay a £35 fine and a £105 release fee to have it removed from the secure compound. If the vehicle is not collected within 24 hours, another £12 a day is added.
Sheffield Council stressed residents are given two weeks’ notice of any road resurfacing works and signs are also put up on roads five days before work is due to start.
Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for streetscene, said: “The Streets Ahead project is a huge city-wide project that will upgrade the city’s roads. To complete this massive task we need the public’s cooperation, and for them to move their cars on the days they are advised.
“We provide letters to all residents two weeks in advance of any works taking place. These letters detail what works will be done, and the week that residents will need to move their cars.
“We then also put up signs five days before any works are started, again notifying residents and commuters when they need to move their cars.
“If on the day we arrive to carry out the works there are still some cars not moved, the Streets Ahead teams do their best to locate the cars’ owners. If this is not possible we do have to tow the car in order to carry out the works.
“Towing a car is always a last resort, and every effort is made to inform and notify residents in advance and find them on the day itself.”
Coun Scott said the fines and release fees are paid directly to the vehicle towing contractor, and the council does not profit in any way.
He added: “We do not want to tow cars as it delays work and causes further knock-on delays, so it’s in everyone’s interests we work together.”
But Coun Penny Baker, Lib Dem deputy leader, said timetable changes often leave residents not knowing when work will start.
She said: “Timetables slipping and signs not changed in time have left people not knowing what to do, with their cars towed even when they are on holiday.
“We all want and need better roads and pavements, but we also need accurate and timely information that enables people to carry on with their lives.”