WILTSHIRE Council and Wiltshire Police have refused to state “for legal reasons” why there have been no Lorry Watch prosecutions in Bradford on Avon for the past year.

Both organisations told a Bradford on Avon Town Council highways and transport committee meeting on Tuesday they could not disclose the reasons in a public forum.

Yvonne Bennett, manager of Wiltshire Council’s trading standards department, said: “We can’t discuss them for legal reasons.”

Inspector James Brain, Wiltshire Police tactical owner for the citizens policing portfolio, said: “We are prepared to answer questions but we are not prepared to do it here in this forum.”

Their responses drew strong criticism from Roger Cottle and Gordon Finch, two Bradford on Avon Lorry Watch volunteers who attended the meeting.

Mr Cottle asked what happened when trading standards contacted hauliers and drivers who had contravened the 18-tonne weight limit on the ancient Town Bridge and got no response or they refused to name the driver.

Mr Finch queried why it was that motorists could be swiftly prosecuted for speeding and other offences, while lorry drivers seemed to escape prosecution for driving over the bridge in overweight vehicles.

Stephanie Ridout, the Bradford on Avon Lorry Watch team leader, said: “I can’t believe the process takes as long as three years.”

Cllr Steve Plummer suggested the police install automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology on the bridge to catch lorry drivers who ignore warning letters.

Inspector Brain said: “We are always open to new ideas and initiatives, however ANPR is not something that we are looking at. I am not prepared to discuss it here.”

The two organisations have asked for a private meeting with councillors and the Lorry Watch volunteers; this will take place on Wednesday, January 24 at 2pm at the town council offices.

After the meeting, Ms Ridout said she could not think of any legal reasons why lorry drivers should not be prosecuted or why the Lorry Watch managers should refuse to divulge why no prosecutions took place last year.

The Lorry Watch volunteers fear their efforts are being wasted because no prosecutions are taking place, although Leanne Homewood, the Wiltshire Police Lorry Watch co-ordinator, said some would take place soon.

“All I can tell you is that there will be progress shortly. That is all I am prepared to say,” she said.