Campaigns: Public Affairs - Clamping down on the dumped car

Abandoned vehicles are a major problem for many local authorities, and their residents, as more and more cars are being left on roadsides in the UK. The reasons would seem to be a sharp fall in scrap metal prices, the ban on lead in petrol, an increase in car ownership and the cost of vehicle disposal.

Abandoned vehicles are a major problem for many local authorities,

and their residents, as more and more cars are being left on roadsides

in the UK. The reasons would seem to be a sharp fall in scrap metal

prices, the ban on lead in petrol, an increase in car ownership and the

cost of vehicle disposal.



The council at Crawley in West Sussex wanted to act decisively, and so

implemented an abandoned vehicle amnesty, enabling residents to hand

over their unwanted vehicles free, without facing prosecution.





Objectives



To create a low-budget PR campaign to publicise Crawley’s abandoned

vehicle amnesty, with a target of at least 150 vehicles over a four week

period.



To inform Crawley’s 96,000 residents of the council’s clamp-down on the

problem, and that following the amnesty offenders would be liable to a

pounds 2,500 fine and/or up to three months’ imprisonment.





Strategy and Plan



Once the mechanics and legalities of the amnesty were in place

internally, a communications plan was produced. It had a heavy PR and

editorial emphasis, backed up with press advertising, warning notices

for vehicles and a 24-hour telephone hotline for the surrender and

reporting of abandoned vehicles.



The local press and broadcasters were targeted with the aim of getting

repeated, extensive and high profile editorial coverage throughout the

four week period.



A series of high profile advertisements in the Crawley News backing up

the editorial coverage were placed, playing on the themes of ’Don’t be a

Lemon’ and ’Last Chance Saloon’. Specially commissioned photographs of

abandoned vehicles were used in support of the media coverage.



Internal communication was also deemed important. Regular update

meetings were held between the communications unit and the council’s

licensing section, which was responsible for the amnesty.



All council staff and members were also updated via the council’s

intranet site, e-mail and the staff newsletter. There was also close

liason with Sussex Police, West Sussex Fire Brigade and West Sussex

County Council, all partners with Crawley in tackling abandoned

vehicles.





Measurement and Evaluation



The number of vehicles reported and surrendered was an easy measure,

which could be updated daily for the press. The Abandoned Vehicles

Amnesty achieved expansive coverage in the local press - including the

Crawley News, the Crawley Observer and the Brighton Evening Argus, on

local radio - BBC Southern Counties and Radio Mercury, and in Crawley

Council’s bi-monthly magazine for residents, Crawley Live. Meridian TV

and BBC South also covered the amnesty as a news item.





Results



The campaign was very successful, especially in light of the small

budget.



After the four-week campaign, 165 vehicles were handed over to Crawley

Council for destruction.



The amnesty cost the council pounds 1,900 in towing fees plus the costs

of the PR campaign. However, if the cars had been removed from the

roadside as abandoned vehicles, it would have cost pounds 4,600 in

storage fees, as cars have to be stored for 28 days in case they are

claimed by owners. Over 300 telephone calls were made to the telephone

hotline.



Since January 2000 an additional 281 abandoned vehicles have been

reported.



The telephone hotline is to be maintained to allow people to continue to

report dumped vehicles.



In addition, Crawley Council unexpectedly received enquiries from other

councils keen to replicate the scheme, who had seen the Meridian TV

coverage.



Client: Crawley Borough Council

Campaign: Abandoned Vehicle Amnesty

PR Team: In-house communications unit

Timescale: 22 November-17 December 1999

Budget: pounds 600, excluding staff costs



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.