OVER 70 cars have been towed away in the region in the last few weeks by the DVLA because their owners have not paid their road tax.

The crackdown in South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire has seen cars linked up to towing vehicles and transported to an impound in Avonmouth, where motorists will have to travel to in order to reclaim their car - once they pay a hefty fine.

In Gloucestershire 45 cars, vans and other vehicles were dragged away because a valid tax disc was not visible in one week, with 36 eventually released after owners stumped up the fee.

Of those, six were in the Stroud district area and two of which have since been released following payment of the release fee.

In Thornbury and the surrounding area, those with a BS35 postcode, DVLA contractors NSL pulled away 14 vehicles and it is unclear how many have been released so far.

In the Chipping Sobury and Yate area, and other areas with a BS37 postcode, a total of 20 vehicles were towed.

A spokeswoman for the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency said their contractors NSL work on a rotational basis, checking cars in specific regions before moving on to different areas.

“DVLA’s national wheel-clamping contractor, as part of their day to day operations, clamp and impound any untaxed vehicles seen on the road," she said.

“Keepers of clamped vehicles must pay a release fee of £100 and a surety fee of £160 if a valid tax disc cannot be produced.”

“They are also pursued for any back tax that is owed. After 24 hours, if the release fee has not been paid, the vehicle is impounded.”

Once a vehicle has been impounded, the DVLA issues an Impound Vehicle Notification to the registered keeper held on its records with information on how to collect the vehicle.

To release the vehicle, the keeper would need to pay a £200 release fee in addition to the surety fee of £160 and storage charges of £21 per day thereafter.

The spokeswoman added the surety fee is always refunded if the keeper is able to show a valid tax disc at the vehicle pound within 14 days of the vehicle's release.

All vehicles used or kept on the public road must be taxed and display their road tax disc on the car.

From October this year, the road tax disc will no longer be needed as vehicles will be checked electronically to see if they are taxed.

Road tax was introduced in 1920 with its original intention to be used for funding the building and upkeep of roads, but since 1937 the proceeds were put into a one large treasury fund, so it can be spent elsewhere.