New laws will help end lead and metal thefts in Rye area

METAL thieves will find it harder to sell stolen material when a new law comes into force on October 1.

Government legislation means that scrap metal merchants will now have to have a new licence in order to trade.

The Rye area has been hit hard by theft of lead and other metals in recent years.

Homes in Rye Citadel and Fairlight have been targeted by thieves and a quantity of lead was stolen from the roof of Rye College.

At Winchelsea residents resorted to painting a special material on roofing lead which then makes it traceable and harder to sell on.

Existing legislation only requires local authorities, such as Rother District Council, to issue a registration to scrap dealers which only lasts three years an does not cost anything.

The new Act increases the powers of councils to refuse and revoke licences and allows them to charge fees to process licences.

The new tighter laws come as central government reviewed various options to deal with the rapid rise in metal theft over the past few years.

The new Act creates two different types of licence, a site licence allowing a dealer to carry out business at any sites with a local authority’s district and a collector’s licence which deals with those merchants who collect door to door.

Both licences will be issued for a three year period.

The legislation also introduces a ‘suitable person’ test similar to the existing ‘fit and proper’ test used for taxi drivers. This requires the local authority to be satisfied that any applicant is suitable to operate as a scrap metal dealer.

As well as lead, thieves often target metal cable from important electrical infrastructures.

Hastings councillor Jay Kramer said: “Anything that helps to regulate this problem and for council to have more rigorous controls is welcome.”