The number of abandoned cars and other vehicles across West Dorset has almost doubled, figures show.

New figures by price comparison website said the number of abandoned vehicles reported by members of the public to West Dorset District Council which covers Bridport, Lyme Regis and Dorchester had risen to 502 in 2016/17, up from 267 in 2015/16.

However, of those reported, councils took action to remove 79 vehicles (15 per cent).

Meanwhile, across the UK, 262,000 vehicles were reported as abandoned in 2016/17, but only 31,812 (12 per cent) were actually removed.

Under current legalisation, councils and their contractors have powers to remove untaxed vehicles whether on public or private land and demand a fee for their release.

If the vehicle also has no MOT certificate, arrangements have to be made for transport by a trailer and the vehicle has to be booked into a test centre before it can be released.

In response, a West Dorset District Council spokesman said it followed a ‘strict’ procedure when removing abandoned vehicles.

They added that they investigate within 48 hours of being notified and generally would not take action if unless least it is one month out of tax and in the same location for eight weeks.

However, if council officers determined that a car was abandoned then a seven-day notice would be issued before being removed.

The council acknowledged the increase in the number of reports but insisted that council officers could not remove a vehicle if someone came forward to claim it. claimed the reason for what it described as an “epidemic” in ditched cars were the costs associated with driving, despite the fact abandoning a car is a criminal offence.

Amanda Stretton, the group’s motoring editor, blamed the increase on rising cost of running a vehicle on a day to day basis.

causing some motorists to ditch them. “The rising cost of running a car is causing some motorists in West Dorset to ditch their vehicles.

“Abandoned vehicles are an eye-sore and a nuisance.”

Many motor manufacturers have put in place to scrappage schemes to help relieve drivers of old or unwanted cars sustainably, but only one in eight motorists had used them, said.