Anti-social drivers who use Tamworth’s roads, car parks and open spaces as racetracks could be banned after Tamworth Borough Council took the first step towards bringing in tough new powers to tackle the problem.
The Council’s Cabinet agreed at its meeting on Thursday to consult with the public on the introduction of the Public Space Protection Order to cover the entire borough, and will submit the results of the consultation to the Healthier & Safer Scrutiny Committee for examination on April 20. The committee will recommend implementation if the consultation is favourable.
The Order would apply to all public highways, car parks and land to which the public has access with the permission of the landowners and would allow police to break up gatherings of car cruisers and boy racers, issuing immediate penalties and even seizing the nuisance vehicles. Offenders could receive a Fixed Penalty of up to £100 or prosecution in the Magistrates Court, which could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
If the Order is approved following public consultation and Scrutiny examination, it would be the first of its kind in the country. It would be implemented by Tamworth Borough Council, as a member of the Tamworth Community Safety Partnership, and enforced by the Police and designated Council officers, where appropriate.
Between August 2015 and January this year, Tamworth Police recorded 32 incidents of vehicle nuisance, including racing, cruising and noise. Hotspots for car gatherings in Tamworth include car parks on industrial estates, McDonalds in Watling Street, the B5000 in Glascote and various roundabouts throughout the borough.
A number of districts near to Tamworth have successful gained High Court injunctions to ban boy racers and car cruisers, leading to an increase in car nuisance coming to the borough from as far as Birmingham, Dudley and Walsall.
The cost of a High Court injunction is around £50,000, which is not a viable option for Tamworth Borough Council. If the PSPO goes ahead following public consultation, it would provide a cost-effective solution to the problem.
As part of the order, Tamworth Community Safety Partnership has also taken the opportunity to address issues of unauthorised vehicle repairs or storage on publically accessible land, which cannot be dealt with through the existing environmental legislation where this activity causes danger or detriment to the amenities.
Cllr Stephen Doyle, Cabinet member for Communities & Public Health, said, “Unofficial and improperly organised car cruising and other vehicle-related gatherings are a danger to the public, other road users and cause noise and wider environmental issues such as littering.
“The PSPO does allow for the organising of official meeting on land where the owner has given permission for such events to take place in a controlled environment with the required insurance and permits.
“The concern for passengers and drivers is also paramount – the risk of losing control of vehicles poses a danger to both themselves and others. The use of public road for racing, doughnutting and drifting also causes surface damage.
“We are pleased that Tamworth is leading the way in recognising the potential of the use of proportionate Public Space Protection Orders for this type of issue. The Orders are made to protect the safety, wellbeing and quality of life of all members of our communities.”
Inspector Jason Nadin from Tamworth Police said, “In the last calendar year, Tamworth Police received more than 100 calls from the public in regard to car cruising and boy racer incidents of anti-social behaviour, with each incident directly affecting the community’s right to peace, respect and road safety.”
He added, “Each incident has been responded to by officers and in the majority of cases the incidents have been very resource intensive as the gatherings have amounted to more than 200 cars.
“We are working in partnership regionally with West Midlands Police and Warwickshire Police under the banner of Operation Hercules, under which we have tried different tactics to date including Section 59 warnings, seizures of non-insured vehicles and dispersal orders. The application for a PSPO in partnership with Tamworth Borough Council is the next strand of our plan.”
There will now be a 28-day consultation period, during which members of the public and business owners will be able to comment on the plans. Click here to access the online consultation.
If the PSPO is implemented, it will be valid for three years, pending review.