Tough new measures to combat the minority of anti-social drivers who use Tamworth’s roads, car parks and open spaces as racetracks will come into force from May 1, after they were approved by Tamworth Borough Council’s Healthier & Safer Scrutiny Committee.
The committee agreed at its meeting on Thursday to introduce a new Public Space Protection Order, with some amendments, to cover the entire borough from May 1.
The Order will apply to all public highways, car parks and land to which the public has access with the permission of the landowners and will allow police to act more quickly to stop gatherings of car cruisers and boy racers which are causing or likely to cause nuisance, alarm or distress.
Police will be able to issue immediate penalties and even seize 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.
The Public Space Protection Order was approved with some minor changes following a public consultation. Some amendments were made in response to feedback from responsible car enthusiasts who expressed concern that the order would be an outright ban and would stop legitimate, responsible car meets.
The order, fully supported by Tamworth Police, is the first of its kind in the country. It will 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 include car parks on industrial estates, McDonalds in Watling Street, the B5000 in Glascote and various roundabouts throughout the borough.
Tamworth Borough Council’s Head of Community Safety, Jo Sands, 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.
“Following analysis of the 100 online consultation responses received, the PSPO has been slightly amended to clarify the fact that it does allow for the organising of official meetings, social gatherings and charity events on land where the owner has no objection to such events taking place.
“It was never the intention to deter or prevent legitimately organised car cruising events or social meet-ups in Tamworth where permission has been granted by the landowner or these meeting do not create significant reported concerns by the neighbouring residents or businesses with regard to noise issues, damage or littering resulting in a call out to the Police. The Healthier & Safer Scrutiny Committee unanimously endorsed that view.
“The purpose of the order is to allow the Police and Council to act more effectively on the minority whose actions do create ASB, damage or danger to the public or take place at unsociable hours.
“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, including noisy exhausts, racing on the highway, donuts performed in the streets of residential neighbourhoods and industrial estates, drifting around major traffic islands and general ASB. All of these incidents have a damaging effect on 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 introduction of the PSPO in partnership with Tamworth Borough Council gives us another valuable tool in our kit to allow us to deal with this issue.”
The PSPO will be valid for three years, after which time it will be reviewed. Signs outlining the new PSPO and its powers will be put up in conjunction with landowners at recognised hotspots and will be used by Police as part of their targeted operations.