Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs)
Our borough is in a prime location; close to the capital and close to Europe. As a consequence there is a high concentration of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) passing through. We appreciate that this is a necessary part of the economy, but we also understand that the presence HGVs on the public highway can cause difficulties for businesses and local residents.
Overnight parking of HGVs on the highway and in various business parks in Ashford has been a growing problem for many years. The problem is not only the obstruction caused by these vehicles but the anti-social behaviour of the drivers who leave behind litter and human waste.
HGV drivers find your nearest weighbridge
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVLA) have a facility for drivers to check for the location of a nearest weighbridge. This information can help drivers check whether their vehicle is overweight and help them stay legal and safe.
Visit www.gov.uk/find-weighbridge for more information.
HGVs parking on the public highway
If an HGV is parked on the public highway, and there is no restriction (such as yellow lines), we have no power under civil parking enforcement to take action. We do not have the power to move the vehicle on.
If there is a single yellow line, we can only enforce when the restriction is in force. This is shown on the signs.
Only the Police have the power to deal with vehicles which are parked dangerously or deemed to be a genuine obstruction. In cases where there is a genuine danger or obstruction you should call 101.
Our officers record the number of HGVs seen in the various areas and issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) when any vehicle is found to be parked in contravention of the parking rules. Please note that we have no power to move these vehicles on; only the Police could do this.
It is clear that the threat of a PCN is not sufficient deterrence to many drivers. The costs of a stay overnight in a 'truck stop' are not dissimilar from the charge that they may incur on-street. The level of the penalty charge is set by central government; we cannot deviate from this.
Ashford Borough Council has taken the following steps to help improve matters for businesses and residents:
- Enforcement abroad - Ashford Borough Council works with enforcement agents to help ensure that charges are recovered, both here and abroad. We will pursue Penalty Charge Notices where we can. Most countries within the EU, for example, will share registered keeper details; some do not
- Patrols - Ashford Borough Council civil enforcement officers are currently the only team in Kent which undertake patrols specifically to enforce contraventions which apply overnight. This entails regular patrols being undertaken during anti-social hours
- Overnight waiting bans - Specific areas have been identified which are trouble spots for parking by heavy goods vehicles. The restriction relates to vehicles with a gross weight of over 5 tonnes. The restriction is in place 8pm to midnight, and from midnight to 7am. Vehicles of any dimension parked in these locations outside these hours will not be parked in contravention of this restriction
- Advice - When on patrol our Civil Enforcement Officers may issue warning notices to vehicles parked in contravention of the overnight ban, in addition to the Penalty Charge Notice. These provide added advice to drivers of the restriction, and gives information about the location of designated lorry parking, in a variety of languages
- Clamping - HGVs of five Tonnes (gross weight) and over that have at least three unpaid Parking Penalty Charge Notices may be clamped, if found to be parked in contravention of a parking restriction and issued a fourth Penalty Charge Notice by a Civil Enforcement Officer
Until recently, Ashford is the only borough in Kent that have been actively enforcing rules specifically relating to HGV parking on the highway. Kent County Council (the Highway Authority) and Ashford Borough Council have been working closely together to try and address the growing problem of HGV parking. Further trials will also be with the agreement of the highway authority. During the trial it was also agreed that we would conduct and intensive clean up and anti-litter campaign. During the trial and on-going enforcement areas across the borough are closely monitored for signs of displacement HGV parking.
Approximately 10 years ago, an overnight waiting restriction was introduced in the two worst affected areas for HGV parking; The Orbital Park and Ashford Business Park, Sevington. Other areas have now been added.
The ban prohibited the parking of HGVs five tonnes and over at these locations between 8pm and midnight, and midnight and 7am the following morning. Ashford International Truck Stop is situated nearby in Waterbrook Avenue and was often under used. It was hoped that HGVs would move to the Truck Stop.
As well as enforcing these areas by issuing Penalty Charge Notices to any illegally parked HGVs Ashford’s Civil Enforcement officers also issued warning notices in many languages, which also directed the HGVs to the Truck Stop.
British registered HGVs soon stopped parking in these locations however many foreign registered HGVs persisted. Many ignored the PCNs issued to them safe in the knowledge that as we had no way of identifying the registered keeper of the vehicle we would not be able to pursue the Penalty Charge.
Ashford Borough Council engaged EPC, a firm of Enforcement Agents who pursued foreign registered vehicles in mainland Europe. Despite some success the majority of PCNs issues to European Registered HGVs went unpaid and although the numbers of HGVs parking in the targeted areas slightly diminished Ashford Borough Council (ABC) was not able to achieve full compliance with the parking restrictions.
In 2011 ABC, together with the Police Community Safety Unit (CSU), conducted a multi-agency operation in these areas called ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ to try and address the problem and our enforcement agents played a major part in this. Subsequent smaller operations involving Ashford Borough Councils Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs), Kent Police Specialist Goods Vehicle Unit and the enforcement agents worked together to enforce this restriction and gather information especially targeting persistent offenders. These operations were very successful and greatly reduced the numbers of HGVs parking for a time but not only did the numbers gradually increase again but some of the HGVs were displaced to other nearby business parks in particular Henwood Business Park in Ashford.
Also, over the years, the numbers of HGVs parking on the highway steadily increased.
The problem is at its worst over the weekends as HGV are unable to travel though France on a Sunday. This is why our joint operations are conducted early on Sunday morning, although the CEOs enforce all week.