TRAFFIC wardens began a crackdown on car dealerships which park on pavements, slapping fines on vehicles parked outside showrooms.

Dealerships in Leigh were targeted by wardens who turned out in force, asking for cars to be moved off areas of pavements which the owners claim are their own property.

Workers at Bransons and Elite cars in London Road say that eight wardens showed up at their businesses.

Southend Council claims the cars were in breach of traffic contraventions as they are causing obstructions.

Terry Callaghan, manager of Bransons, admitted that the cars were encroaching onto the pavement on Monday morning but says the business owns that part of the land.

He said: “They turned up at 9.30am, telling us to move our cars, and they put tickets on three of them.

“We’ve been here 18 years and we’re not blocking the pavement. Every two or three years they do this when someone new takes over there, and we’ve had tickets before that have been cancelled once we show them that we’re actually on our own property.”

Gary Harris, owner of Elite second hand Jaguar dealership across the road, said that wardens made him move five cars from an area of the pavement in Olivia Drive which he also maintains is part of his property.

He said: “We’ve had a line of cars outside there for 30 years. Our land goes out about ten feet onto the pavement.

“They’re going to put me out of business if I can’t put them there. No garage showroom could continue without having that many of their cars on display.”

A Southend Council spokesman said: “A senior civil enforcement officer asked the dealer at Elite Cars to move four vehicles parked with one or more wheels on the footway and was given a full hour’s leeway to do so.

“His colleague, also a senior, experienced officer, offered the same courtesy to the Branson’s dealer who refused and proceeded to rip the registration plates from one of the vehicles, so two were issued with penalty charge notices.

“At all times, officers were courteous and actually spent time explaining the situation to the dealership owners. All actions by civil enforcement officers are aimed at enhancing public safety.”

A PROMINENT opposition councillor said he supports wardens making moves against infringements by car dealerships in the area.

Lib Dem Blenheim Park ward councillor Graham Longley, in which Elite cars is based, said: “London Road car dealers have been a constant source of nuisance and disturbance in roads off London Road for years, whether its parking in bays, on yellow lines or on the pavement.

“If the cars were parked in contravention I congratulate enforcement officers on doing their job. The camera doesn’t lie, enforcement officers take pictures when they’re there, and it will show if they were parking where they shouldn’t have been.”

Fellow Lib Dem Alan Crystall of Leigh ward, where Bransons is based, said: “It can be an issue. We expect companies to be sensible and not drive over pavements, but if they have a right to park somewhere they can park there.”