Public Spaces Protection Order to curb cruisers and boy racers in Southend

Car cruisers and boy racers who endanger lives and upset Southend residents are on a warning they will be the target of an extension of the city’s antisocial behaviour powers that could land them with a hefty fine.

If agreed by the council, from next spring anyone driving in an antisocial manner such as speeding, racing or modifying vehicles to make excessive noise, will be tackled using the powers of the Southend Public Spaces Protection Order.

The current order covers Southend town centre and the seafront, preventing alcohol or drug use and begging. It was recently extended to ban beach barbecues and restrict jet skiers. The new order will allow police and council officers to tackle racers and cruisers anywhere in the city.

Joan Tinney, chairman of the Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, said: “We’ve been asking for something like this for years. They are an absolute pain in the neck. They are dangerous. It’s obscene the way they carry on.

“Years ago you used to have a cruise night every fourth Saturday of the month and it was brilliant. They had cars that had really been tuned up but not for racing and the body work had all been done on them and they really looked nice. Now they are no different from my car half the time. They just do something to the exhaust so they make a racket then they start skidding about.

Martin Terry, councillor responsible for public protection said: “We’ve got an endemic problem in the town with people driving dangerously and behaving in an antisocial manner. In particular, people driving with modified vehicles and noisy exhausts. Although the key area is the seafront we are getting racing going on around the town and we want to do all we can to try and crack down on it.

“We want to send out the message that these people aren’t welcome here.”

Officers can hand £100 fixed penalty notices while those breaching the order can face a £1,000 fine following a conviction. Car enthusiasts taking part in orderly meetings will have nothing to fear.

Cllr Terry added: “We are more than happy for people to come down here with their shiny cars and show them off. It’s when you get the antisocial behaviour element. Not all cruisers do that. It’s an element within that group that needs to be tackled.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter