Police disperse car meet on Southend seafront

Mick Ferris
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Car cruisers can expect to be moved on and risk having their cars seized if they attend unauthorised meets this weekend.

Road closures and dispersal powers were put in place to deal with a large unauthorised gathering in Southend on Saturday evening.
A large number of cars and large crowds of at least 200 people gathered on Southend seafront at about 10pm.

Cars and motorbikes were seen driving dangerously and performing wheel spins close to members of the public who were standing in the road and on the footpath.

Traffic in Marine Parade was also being held up because the car meet was blocking the road.

Local policing officers, roads policing units, and officers from the Operational Support Group attended to move people on, but faced aggressive behaviour and had objects thrown at them.

A dispersal order was put in place from 10.30pm until 10.30am today, Sunday July 18, which gave officers the power to order people causing antisocial behaviour to leave the area. Breaching any direction given under the order is a criminal offence.

The dispersal powers applied to Marine Parade, Southchurch Avenue from Marine Parade to the junction of Woodgrange Drive, and Western Esplanade up to Shorefield Road.

Officers also closed Marine Parade for around two hours in order to clear drivers and crowds from the road safely, and prevent other drivers planning on attending.

One BMW was seized and the driver reported for driving offences.

Chief Inspector Ian Hughes said: “There were hundreds of people on Southend seafront last night and their safety was our ultimate priority.

“We acted quickly to disperse the gathering and our officers faced abuse and objects being thrown at them, just for trying to protect people from harm.

“While those responsible may have thought we were spoiling their fun, the reality is cars being driven dangerously among crowds of pedestrians can end in tragedy.

“We have seen instances before in Essex where people have been seriously injured in these circumstances – only a few years ago a young woman had to have part of her leg amputated after being hit by a motorbike.

“We have no issue with true car enthusiasts who meet in sensible locations with the landowners’ consent with roadworthy cars and are respectful to the local community.

“But we will not tolerate those who use public roads as race tracks and put people in danger.

“Anyone caught driving anti-socially or dangerously risks having their vehicle seized under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act.

“We have additional patrols in place at evenings and weekends throughout the summer to keep people safe and deal with those responsible for crime and anti-social behaviour.

“If you come to Southend to cause trouble, you will be dealt with.”

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s community safety team also supported officers with patrols during last night’s gathering.

Councillor Martin Terry, cabinet member for public protection at Southend Council, said: “Our seafront is a place people to relax and have fun, and it is thoroughly unacceptable for anyone to think they can drive dangerously like this, putting other’ lives at risk.

“Southend seafront is not a place this behaviour will be tolerated.”

Anyone with any further information about last night’s incident and anyone with footage of dangerous and anti-social driving is asked to contact police online or use the ‘Live Chat’ button to speak to an online operator between 7am-11pm.

Alternatively, you can call 101.

Information can also be given to independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk