CARS left parked in areas set for roadworks could be towed away under new rules.

Essex County Council is set to introduce a policy which allows it to remove any vehicles which obstructs highways works.

It follows a pilot run across 98 high risk sites last year to “avoid the waste of public money”.

During the trial period the council removed 16 vehicles from eight different areas at a cost of £9,000.

A study in 2016 found the council incurred additional costs of £88,000 where drivers ignored signs about works being completed.

A spokesman for Essex Highways said: “In certain situations, for instance when we are resurfacing roads or where we need working space for other highway engineering activities, we need to ensure that the road is kept clear of parked vehicles.

“The cost of returning to site to finish or continue a job because a vehicle has been parked obstructing us can be significant, in the order of many thousands of pounds over a year.

“It also means that we may end up with extra joints in the surface lessening the lifespan of the surfacing. It also delays us from doing other work elsewhere, and it may mean that we have to go back and disrupt residents again.”

Under the pilot Essex Highways delivered leaflets ten days before works and put up signs seven days in advance.

Anyone who left their vehicle in the area was issued a penalty charge notice and if it was not moved the teams removed the car to a nearby location.

During the trial period issued fines were cancelled.

However, with the introduction of the scheme on a permanent basis these will no longer be waived going forward.

The spokesman added: “We are really pleased with the results, as most of the public have been supportive and adjusted their parking to avoid causing a problem.

“Indeed, during the year’s pilot we only had to remove 16 vehicles across all the sites we trialled, which is a testament to the scheme and the public response to it.

“As a result we are making the scheme permanent.”