On 29th April 2009 I put an old Landrover car on the Shetland roads. When I say old, I mean decrepit. It's a 1984 model and in too bad a condition to be able to drive the 30 miles to Lerwick as originally intended.
The passenger door is liable to fall off if opened and part of the chassis on the driver's side is held on by the seat belt! It would be fine as a workhorse on Forvik if I could ever get it there.
It has a Forvik numberplate, Forvik tax disc and an FK sticker for country of registration. On the vehicle is a notice.
The next day there was a notice in the windscreen saying the vehicle would be removed and destroyed. I responded with my own notice saying the vehicle was not abandoned, it was parked. I do not give my consent for it to be removed and that anyone doing so would be liable to pay me £1,000.
A letter followed quoting the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978, to which I replied that any statutes rely on the notion that Shetland is part of Scotland and I would comply when they show me when that happened.
This correspondence came to a halt when I received a call from the police saying the vehicle had been vandalised and was now a danger. I said that I was not intending to remove it and they replied that they would then remove it immediately and charge me the cost. I went over to Sandness to find a couple of friendly policemen guarding the car to make sure nobody was in danger. The car was in a sorry state with the doors torn off, foam sprayed around the inside and outside, the body attacked with something like a pickaxe, the bonnet jumped on and the tyres partially deflated. The four wheels stood in fish boxes, making it immovable. See pictures below.
I told the police I did not consent to the vehicle being removed. They invited me to make a complaint against the vandals, which I declined, so they asked me to make a statement explaining why - which I did. I then asked the constable to sign a statement for me saying that he had read and understood the notice on the windscreen. He was surprised and said nobody had ever asked that before, but agreed, so I wrote it out and he signed. At no time was I asked for documentation, otherwise I would have shown my Forvik driving license:
The rescue truck took a while to arrive and the police crew left, saying that a colleague was on their way. Finally the truck arrived, followed shortly after by the new police officer. I pointed out the notice to the truck people, so they simply prepared the vehicle until the police arrived to give them instructions. I ensured the new officer was aware of the notice before she instructed the loading of the vehicle, which then went ahead.
The following day I went to the garage where the vehicle had been taken, to get the bill and then went home to write to the police for payment according to the contract on the windscreen. Then an extraordinary turn of events. I was quite sure I had contravened enough statutes that I would have to be prosecuted, but apparently not.
I got a phone call saying the matter of not displaying a tax disc was being referred to the DVLA (the licensing authority), even though it is an offence attracting an immediate fixed penalty under normal circumstances. The matter of having no MOT was not being pursued because I was not driving the vehicle at the time. Nothing was said about insurance. (I had taken out insurance, but was aware that it would not be valid without a current MOT).
A letter from the DVLA invites me to pay £147 to avoid legal action, which I declined with this reply. Over two months elapsed with no further response from the DVLA, so I wrote to Northern Constabulary again asking why they had not carried out their duty in prosecuting me for the various 'offences' I had committed and asking them to justify their authority. No reply by 17th November 2009.
In a telephone conversation with someone high up in the local Police Station, he said "There can't be any contract just because you put a notice in the window, otherwise everybody would do it." Precisely.
The Police stole the vehicle, destroyed it and didn't bring any charges. That led to further action with the Consular Vehicles.