Whose responsibility to move roadside wrecks?

Police and council deny responsibility and point at each other.

Police and council deny responsibility and point at each other.

‘IT’S A HAZARD’: No one is taking responsibilty for a van that has been sitting on the side of Haisman Road since it crashed a week ago. Gisborne police say it is Gisborne District Council’s responsibility but they say it is not. The car remains on the verge and people have begun to stop and take photos. “It’s a hazard,” say neighbours. Picture by Liam Clayton

HEXTON residents says it is a ridiculous situation that no one is taking responsibility for a van that crashed outside their properties a week ago.

On Saturday morning last week, a 44-year-old woman was taken to Gisborne Hospital with moderate injuries after the van she was driving collided head-on with a power pole.

Neighbours supported the woman after the crash until emergency services arrived. But a week later the wreckage is still on the grass verge.

Debbie Barrow and her husband live in the house next to the accident scene.

“I just assumed with it being a weekend someone would come on Monday. But no one has come. It’s just on the verge, its a 100kmh road and it obscures our view as you come out of the driveway.”

Worse, people are stopping and getting out to take photos, she said.

“About three cars were there the other day and people got out and had a discussion about how it happened.

“We’ve spoken to the council, spoken to the police and neither believe it is their responsibility. We’ve pointed out it is a hazard but nobody is making a decision.

“The council has said that ratepayers' money should not be used to move it, but I am a ratepayer and it is causing a hazard.”

Another neighbour’s driveway is beside the crash site. David Langford has also called the council and the police.

A local joke

“Nobody wants to do anything about it. People are stopping and taking photos, it’s becoming a local joke. All it needs is a truck to come and pick it up. The council say it is the police’s responsibility but the police say it’s not.

“I guess in the first instance it’s the owner but if the owner is not insured and hasn’t any money, then what do you do?”

Mr Langford said the situation exposed a hole in the system, and that vehicles should not be allowed on New Zealand roads unless they are insured, even with third party insurance.

Compounding the situation is the rising cost of getting rid of unwanted cars. Last week The Herald ran a story about GDC’s plan to deal with costs associated with getting rid of unwanted cars as car wreckers were backing away because of low scrap metal prices.

Richard Newman from East Coast Auto Wreckers said the cost of transporting car bodies out of the district exceeded the scrap price.

“There is no money in car bodies any more for scrap because of the drop in the scrap metal price. We get calls about taking car bodies every day but have to decline.”

Mr Newman said he can see unwanted cars becoming a huge problem in this district if steps are not taken to offset the removal costs involved.

Gisborne District Council enforcement manager Jim Single says the council deals with abandoned vehicles but is not authorised to collect cars that have been involved in accidents.

“The rules are quite clear about what we can tow.”

The police can report it to the council as an abandoned vehicle but the council needs to investigate thoroughly by making all attempts to contact the owner.

Police have told the council the person driving the car was not the owner but will not give the council any ownership details because of privacy issues.

“So we can’t find out anything.”

Mr Single said his staff had checked with the Hawke’s Bay councils and the Auckland council who advised the police were responsible for cars in situations like this.

“Under section 21 of the Land Transport Act 1998 it clearly states if there is a traffic hazard, as is obviously the case after an accident, it should be dealt with immediately by the attending police officer.”

He questions why police did not remain at the crash scene, protecting traffic and the person’s property until a contractor arrived to remove the hazard.

“The car is essentially in police possession after a crash, it has police tape all around it.”

“If the car is not removed by police or the owner by next week, the council can deem it legally abandoned and will remove it then.”

Gisborne police declined to comment.

HEXTON residents says it is a ridiculous situation that no one is taking responsibility for a van that crashed outside their properties a week ago.

On Saturday morning last week, a 44-year-old woman was taken to Gisborne Hospital with moderate injuries after the van she was driving collided head-on with a power pole.

Neighbours supported the woman after the crash until emergency services arrived. But a week later the wreckage is still on the grass verge.

Debbie Barrow and her husband live in the house next to the accident scene.

“I just assumed with it being a weekend someone would come on Monday. But no one has come. It’s just on the verge, its a 100kmh road and it obscures our view as you come out of the driveway.”

Worse, people are stopping and getting out to take photos, she said.

“About three cars were there the other day and people got out and had a discussion about how it happened.

“We’ve spoken to the council, spoken to the police and neither believe it is their responsibility. We’ve pointed out it is a hazard but nobody is making a decision.

“The council has said that ratepayers' money should not be used to move it, but I am a ratepayer and it is causing a hazard.”

Another neighbour’s driveway is beside the crash site. David Langford has also called the council and the police.

A local joke

“Nobody wants to do anything about it. People are stopping and taking photos, it’s becoming a local joke. All it needs is a truck to come and pick it up. The council say it is the police’s responsibility but the police say it’s not.

“I guess in the first instance it’s the owner but if the owner is not insured and hasn’t any money, then what do you do?”

Mr Langford said the situation exposed a hole in the system, and that vehicles should not be allowed on New Zealand roads unless they are insured, even with third party insurance.

Compounding the situation is the rising cost of getting rid of unwanted cars. Last week The Herald ran a story about GDC’s plan to deal with costs associated with getting rid of unwanted cars as car wreckers were backing away because of low scrap metal prices.

Richard Newman from East Coast Auto Wreckers said the cost of transporting car bodies out of the district exceeded the scrap price.

“There is no money in car bodies any more for scrap because of the drop in the scrap metal price. We get calls about taking car bodies every day but have to decline.”

Mr Newman said he can see unwanted cars becoming a huge problem in this district if steps are not taken to offset the removal costs involved.

Gisborne District Council enforcement manager Jim Single says the council deals with abandoned vehicles but is not authorised to collect cars that have been involved in accidents.

“The rules are quite clear about what we can tow.”

The police can report it to the council as an abandoned vehicle but the council needs to investigate thoroughly by making all attempts to contact the owner.

Police have told the council the person driving the car was not the owner but will not give the council any ownership details because of privacy issues.

“So we can’t find out anything.”

Mr Single said his staff had checked with the Hawke’s Bay councils and the Auckland council who advised the police were responsible for cars in situations like this.

“Under section 21 of the Land Transport Act 1998 it clearly states if there is a traffic hazard, as is obviously the case after an accident, it should be dealt with immediately by the attending police officer.”

He questions why police did not remain at the crash scene, protecting traffic and the person’s property until a contractor arrived to remove the hazard.

“The car is essentially in police possession after a crash, it has police tape all around it.”

“If the car is not removed by police or the owner by next week, the council can deem it legally abandoned and will remove it then.”

Gisborne police declined to comment.

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Chester - 3 years ago
Is it Downer's responsibility under their contract with Tairawhiti Roads?

Hine - 3 years ago
The owner should dispose of it - her rubbish, her problem . . . not the taxpayer.

Neighbour - 3 years ago
Maybe do you think it's the responsibility of the person who had the accident. It's a joke how people can walk away from their responsibilities. Too easy.