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Council fined for needless’ car crushing

PUBLISHED: 15:53 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 14:48 25 August 2010

CRUSHING two cars without the owners consent has landed a council a £1,350 fine.

CRUSHING two cars without the owners' consent has landed a council a £1,350 fine.

Greenwich council was rapped for acting with maladministration causing injustice in an Ombudsman's report brought before the council on Tuesday.

A woman named 'Miss Smith' was outraged when her car, a Christmas present from her parents, was crushed despite being parked outside her house.

On February 21, council workers heard kids were trying to break into the Vauxhall Corsa, where they noted that it wasn't taxed and showed signs of damage and age.

Despite being told by the Driving and Licensing Agency (DVLA) it was registered to Miss Smith and outside her house, three days later they came to tow it away.

According to the report, a neighbour told them it had an owner but the workers still decided it had been stationary for "a period of time", was worth less than £1,000, and so must be crushed.

The investigator found the actions to be "utterly incomprehensible" and fined the council £850 for the car and £250 for the trouble caused.

The council was also fined £250 for crushing a second woman's car last December, which was locked in her garage.

The owner was going to sell the car and had spent six weeks finding a buyer as she could not afford the insurance.

When she arrived to show a buyer the car, she said she found that the lock to her garage was broken and the car was gone.

At first the council said it had been removed because it was burnt out, but then admitted it had used the phrase 'burnt out' to mean vandalised and fit only for scrap.

The council claimed it was severely vandalised with wheels and number plates removed and no tax disc, thus posing a risk to other garage users.

Neighbourhood Services staff had lost photo evidence and made a postal enquiry to the DVLA instead of using an online service because they have no internet access.

But the car was crushed by contractors on the council's request before they received a response from the DVLA.

Greenwich council were unavailable for comment.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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