Abandoned car numbers tumble

* 72% drop in four years * Rising scrap prices behind rise * Boom may be about to end, though...

Abandoned car numbers tumble

The rising price of scrap metal has had an unexpected side-effect the number of abandoned cars left at the roadside has fallen dramatically.

Figures from the Local Government Association reveal that the number of abandoned vehicles reported to councils has fallen 72% over the last four years.

The LGA said this was down to it campaigning for 250 councils to clear up abandoned vehicles within 24 hours.

However, environmental board chairman Paul Bettison,, conceded that demand for scrap metal, particularly steel, aluminium and copper found in the body, wheels and wiring of vehicles, had played its part.

He said: 'A few years ago, youd have had to pay someone to take your old car away, but now scrap metal dealers will pay you up to 1000 for the pleasure.'

Scrap dealers have been prepared to pay cash for old cars because metal prices have rocketed to meet demand from countries such as China and India.

However, the global economic slowdown could end the bonanza, with one scrap merchant telling the Financial Times: 'We were getting 150 a tonne for scrap cars three months ago and now it has fallen to 80 a tonne.'

The LGA figures show that the number of abandoned cars reported to local authorities fell from 291,700 in 2002-03 to 81,700 in 2006-07.