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.
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.
If a 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.
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 have no powers to move them on.
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.
Our Civil Enforcement Officers regularly patrol the areas in the borough where there are overnight and weekend HGV parking restrictions these are:
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 form other areas. We will also investigate any complaints about HGV parking in residential areas.
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 regularly enforce the overnight HGV parking restrictions in the borough. This entails regular patrols being undertaken during anti-social hours
Overnight waiting bans – The four areas mentioned where Ashford Borough 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. From 30th. October 2017 HGVs will also be prohibited from parking at any time on Saturday and Sunday on all of the locations where there is an overnight HGV pacing ban.
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
2015 clamping trial – In 2015 Ashford Borough Council conducted a six-month clamping trial in the borough at specific locations The Orbital Park, Ashford Business Park Sevington and Henwood Industrial Estate. During the trial HGVs that had received three or more Penalty Charge Notice were clamped. The trial showed that clamping was a better deterrent for some drivers that the issuing of a Penalty Charge alone. A new clamping trial will begin on 30th. October 2017. This trial will cover the four areas in the borough where there is an existing overnight and weekend HGV parking ban and will prohibit the overnight parking of HGVs on a section of the A20 between and including Charring and the Drovers Roundabout Ashford. HGVs parking in contravention of this Order will be clamped on the first and every subsequent occasion that hey park.
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 8 p.m. (20:00) and 7 a.m. (07:00) 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.
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.
In addition, 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.
Ashford Borough Council is fully aware that better, off-road provision is needed to accommodate these HGVs and all enforcement initiative need to me measured and accompanied by constant monitoring of possible displacement parking issues.