Citing a catalogue of incidents where lorries have blocked streets, got stuck in villages and crashed into bridges as a result of driving down routes not suitable for their size or weight, the Local Government Association (LGA) has called for councils to be given more powers.

A new LGA survey shows that more than half of responding councils said this was one of the most important traffic issues in their communities. Currently only police, and councils in London and Wales, have the powers to fine offenders.

The LGA said many councils are already working with communities to tackle the issue, such as through organising lorry watch schemes, and working with freight and haulage companies to ensure that lorries use the most suitable routes and roads.

It said there is much more they can do if they had the power to fine “rogue lorry drivers” who flout weight restriction limits.

Giving councils the power to enforce moving traffic offences — including trucks using rural roads not designed to take their weight, vehicles driving the wrong way down a one-way street or making a banned turn — would help them act on community concerns.

Councillor Martin Tett, the LGA’s Transport spokesman, said such powers would help councils unblock congestion hotspots that delay buses and lengthen journey times and would also reduce pollution from stationary and slow-moving traffic.

However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has dismissed the proposals as a plan to generate revenue to make up shortfalls in reduced central government funding. Chief executive Richard Burnett accused the Association of seeing truckers as an easy target.

“The LGA has gone out of its way to demonise truckers to back up their bid — painting a bleak picture of lorries causing what they call ‘havoc and mayhem’ across the country,” he said. “Lorry drivers are skilled professionals, trained to an exceptionally high standard and the vast majority are safe and compliant at all times.”

Last reviewed 3 October 2019