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Over 100 dangerous commercial vehicles taken off the road in multi-agency crackdown

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A joint operation between the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), South Wales Police, Gwent Police, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Natural Resources Wales, and Trading Standards in October has seen over 100 dangerous vehicles taken off the road.

Enforcement teams involved in the operation were largely targeting vans and other light goods vehicles being used for commercial purposes.

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Across all check sites, DVSA examiners issued a total of 110 immediate prohibitions for defects so dangerous that they result in a vehicle being immediately removed from the road.

The most common defects across all the operations related to overloading and tyres.

These defects compromise vehicle performance, including stopping distances and steering capability, putting the driver and other members of the public at risk in the local areas they operate.

One of the vehicles pulled in at a check in Swansea had a catastrophic 25 prohibitable mechanical defects.

The driver was reported for dangerous use by South Wales Police after DVSA examiners found issues with the vans steering, significant corrosion, tyres which were damaged, deflated and had an illegal tread depth, loose tools and equipment that could interfere with controls in the cab, broken indicators, and an expired MOT.  

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Alongside the most dangerous defects found, 71 delayed prohibitions were also issued.

DVSA’s Head of Regulatory Services & Transformation Caroline Hicks, said:“DVSA’s priority is to protect people from unsafe drivers and vehicles, which includes taking dangerous traders off the road.

“This action alongside our partners serves as a reminder of the risks associated with cutting corners on road safety. Every driver or operator has a responsibility to check their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before beginning a journey.

“DVSA is here to support those operators and drivers who do comply and are safe on our roads. We want to ensure they are not disadvantaged by dangerous and reckless road use.“We endeavor to support drivers and operators to remain safe, which is why we have produced guidance accessible on GOV.UK to empower commercial road users to make Welsh roads safe for everybody.”  

(Lead image: Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA))

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Motoring

Swansea tops UK’s motorcycling hotspots in new survey

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New research has identified the UK’s motorbike capital cities and towns, and when including surrounding areas in the postcode, Swansea has come out top – with an incredible 3.92% of the nations motorcyclists settling here.

Hosting 141,782 riders, Swansea offers both shoreline and lush, green scenic routes so its hardly surprising that the city is the UK’s number one biker hotspot.

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The new research by Bikesure has named Wales as the third-highest biker hotspot in the UK, with 9,514 riders per 100,000 people.

To calculate Britain’s biker hot spots, Bikesure analysed the latest Department for Transport data to identify the number of licensed motorcyclists in the UK in 2021. This data was then broken down by region per 100,000 people, allowing Bikesure to pinpoint the top three locations that Britain’s bikers reside. 

Whilst expected in a post-Covid world that new bikers in the UK would rise due to lowered restrictions and the backlog of learners, Bikesure’s research shows biking within Britain has seen a sharp increase. 

In 2021, 36.9k new bikers were registered in the UK. With discussions around the need to address climate change increasing, the findings suggest a shift in the way Brits are travelling. The return of bikers was particularly prevalent in Wales, which boasted rider growth of 114% since 2020.

Wales also tops the list when it comes to the greatest number of urban bikers, with both Swansea (141,781 actual riders) and Llandudno (77,803 actual riders) making the top ten town and city hot spots list with 6% of all urban riders living in these locations. Wales also had 5% of the 38.6k newly registered motorcyclists in 2021, boasting 114% growth since 2020.

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Bikesure asked bikers in the UK’s hot spots what they felt their region offered to riders. They said:

  • The North East offers great rural riding experiences, as voted by 72% of bikers in this region.
  • Scottish riders feel a sense of camaraderie with 71% of riders rating the friendliness of other motorcyclists highly.
  • Welsh riders were happiest with the accessibility of garages to upkeep and maintain their motorcycles, as voted by 81% of bikers.

Looking at newly licensed riders, although there was a decline in 2020, presumably due to Covid, 2021 was a bumper year with 38.6k new bikers. Looking at demographics, 3.6k newly qualified motorcyclists were aged 20-29 years old, but 2021 also saw the highest number of riders aged 60-69 get their licence, with 911 registering in the first three quarters.

Most of these new bikers can be found in the South East, with Reading and Guilford revealed as the region’s most popular biker towns. There were 7.1k newly qualified motorcyclists in the South East region – a year-on-year increase of 86%.

Large jumps in the number of new riders were also seen in Greater London, the East Midlands and in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The East Midlands is in fact home to 30% of the top 10 cities for newly registered motorcyclists. Nottingham, Derby and Leicester in the East Midlands saw 2.5k new bikers licensed in 2021. As a region, it saw an 106% increase in riders, meaning it was also among the top three fastest growing regions year-on-year along with Wales, and Yorkshire and the Humber.

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Education

“Stuck in a catch-22”: parents drive their children to school because they are concerned about traffic

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New polling data released for Living Streets’ Walk to School Week (16-20 May 2022) finds that traffic is one of the biggest barriers to children walking to school, with 17 per cent of parents in Wales naming it as a reason their child doesn’t walk.

With over 460,000 pupils in Wales, it would mean tens of thousands of them are being denied the physical and social health benefits of being more active.

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Schools being too far away from home (18%) and cars parked on pavements (17%) were also barriers for Welsh parents.

The latest data suggests just 50 per cent of primary school aged children in Wales walk to school.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.

“Leaving the car at home will reduce chaos and road danger around the school gates. It’s also a great way for children to learn about road safety in a real life setting and build their confidence in managing risk.

“Walk to School Week is an excellent opportunity for families to give walking to school a go and reap the health and social benefits of moving more.”

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Living Streets works with schools, local authorities and parent groups to help improve the walk to school.

Stephen Edwards continues: “We want to enable as well as encourage more families to walk to school. We’re here to help parents who are worried about safety around their child’s school. Car-free zones, 20mph limits and better crossings can all help make the walk to school safer and we’re here to help people campaign for them in their area.”

For more information on Living Streets’ walk to school campaign, visit livingstreets.org.uk/WalkToSchool

(Lead image: Shutterstock)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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