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.
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 a HGV is parked on the public highway, and there is no restriction (such as yellow lines or an overnight waiting ban), 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. The times when this is in force is shown on the signs.
Parked on the pavement or verge?
HGVs should not park on footways or verges adjacent to of between carriageways. If they do, we will issue a Penalty Charge Notice. Again, we do not have powers to move them on. Report HGVs parked on footways or verges.
Note: Only the Police have the power to deal with vehicles that are parked dangerously or deemed to be a genuine obstruction. In cases where there is a genuine danger or obstruction you should call 101.
We fully understand that the issues surrounding HGV parking is not limited to the locations listed above- it can occur in many places across the borough.
If overnight HGV parking only occurred very infrequently or related only to one or a few vehicles, this would not warrant the use of permanent civil controls. As already mentioned, residents should report danger or obstruction to the police (call 101 or report online to Kent Police).
Those areas already listed are the ONLY places where we have been given permission by the Department for Transport. No additional areas were permitted after the initial 18 month trial. There has been no indication that more areas will be permitted.
Any changes to rules in Ashford would have an effect on all other areas in Kent and beyond; although we may wish to do more, we are obliged to recognise this fact. We are doing everything we reasonably can under the powers we have been granted. Our officers have a great many other duties and other areas to enforce, both day and night.
Note: Kent County Council can only make or change these underlying rules we enforce if and when the Department for Transport grants such permission. If you want more areas added to the existing list, the best first step would be the garner the support or your local county or ward councillor.
A resident parks an HGV in a residential street
If a resident parks an HGV on the public highway, there may be nothing the borough council can do to prevent this. However, anyone parking an HGV would be expected to be suitably licensed.
If a vehicle weighs more than 3.5 tonnes then it may be subject to the operator's licensing regime for HGVs, in which case conditions relating to on-street parking might be attached to the licence.
No person may use a goods vehicle on a road for the carriage of goods for hire or reward or in connection with any trade or business carried on by him unless he has an operator's licence under the Goods vehicles (licensing of operators) Act 1995, as amended
In order to obtain a license it would need to be shown to the traffic commissioner that the proposed operating centre was a suitable place.
An operating centre may be an off-street yard, but in the case of an owner-driver especially, it may simply be the area outside the operator's residential home.
The licensing authority might also revoke a licence if any of its conditions had been breached.
If you think that an operator's licence is being infringed, contact the local traffic commissioner.
Our Civil Enforcement Officers regularly patrol the areas in the borough where there are overnight and weekend HGV parking restrictions. These are:
- A20 (section between Charing and M20, junction 10)
- The Orbital Park, Sevington
- Ashford Business Park, Sevington
- Wotton Road, South Ashford
- Ellingham Industrial Estate, South Ashford
Our officers also patrol and enforce other Industrial estates that have general waiting restrictions such as single or double yellow lines. These include Henwood and Cobbs Wood industrial Estates. When our officers patrol and enforce, they also count and record the numbers of HGVs that are parking in all these locations to assess the degree of displacement from other areas. We will also investigate any complaints about HGV parking in residential areas
It is clear that the threat of a PCN (Parking Charge Notice or parking fine) 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 (ABC) 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 will share registered keeper details
Patrols – Ashford Borough Council Civil Enforcement Officers regularly enforce the overnight HGV parking restrictions in the borough. This entails regular patrols being undertaken during anti-social hours
Overnight waiting bans – The areas above mentioned where Kent County Council have introduced an overnight HGV parking ban prohibit the parking of HGVs between 8 p.m. (20:00) and 7 a.m. (07:00) the following day and at any time on Saturday and Sunday
Clamping – HGVs parking in contravention in the list of areas given above will be clamped on the first occasion and every subsequent occasion that they park. The clamping protocol and release fee have been agreed by the Department for Transport for use only in the areas indicated above (more information below).
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.
The ban originally prohibited the parking of HGVs five tonnes and over at these locations between 8pm and 7am the following day. 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.
We worked with 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 mufti-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 Council's Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs), Kent Police Specialist Goods Vehicle Unit and the enforcement agents worked together to enforce this restriction and gather information specifically 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.
In 2015 a clamping trial was authorised by the Department for Transport. An experimental order was in place for 18 months that allowed us to set aside normal national rules in the areas listed above. We could:
- Clamp HGVs on the receipt of their first Penalty Charge Notice (see below)
- Charge a Clamp release fee above the level normally levied under statutory instrument
As a result of this trial, the provisions were included in a permanent amendment to the Traffic Regulation Order in 2019. The main difference between the permanent order and the experimental order is an acknowledgement that HGV drivers be permitted to take their statutory 45 minute break at any time, even during the period of the overnight ban.
However, any HGV which is parked and gives our CEOs reason to believe that a contravention of the overnight or weekend parking ban has taken place will received a Penalty Charge Notice and then be clamped once it appears that the statutory break period does not apply. One is not permitted to undertake the daily rest period in the listed areas during the times shown on the signs,.
Our officers regularly patrol the affected areas and work alongside the clamping crews to ensure that the rules are observed. This sort of patrolling is unique across the country and is a credit to our enforcement team.
Ashford Borough Council is fully aware that better, off-road provision is needed to accommodate these HGVs and all enforcement initiatives need to be measured and accompanied by constant monitoring of possible displacement parking issues.