Wokingham Borough Council has learned that there is a potential unauthorised and Covid breaching car meet happening Saturday 17 April that could bring a large number of cars into the borough on Saturday evening. The council is working with partners at Reading Borough Council and Thames Valley Police to restrict access to car parks and other areas the attendees may target with the hopes of preventing the meet from happening.
Simon Price, assistant director neighbourhoods and communities, said: “We are working closely with our partners at Thames Valley Police and Reading Borough Council to hopefully prevent this unauthorised car meet from happening in the borough or surrounding areas.
“Our first concern is the safety of our residents and having a large number of cars descend on the borough at once, particularly as this is the first weekend after lifting Covid restrictions on non-essential shops and hospitality venues and the day of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in our neighbouring borough. This could cause chaos on our roads and endanger our residents.
“We are putting on extra staff to restrict access to the areas where we think the group may congregate and are working with the police to ensure our roads stay safe.”
The council is taking pre-emptive action to try to prevent the meet from taking place in the borough by restricting access to car parks that the meet may target and increasing patrols across the borough. It will use the same approach already used to successfully reduce anti-social behaviour at Carnival Pool car park, with officers wearing body cameras.
“We are asking residents to take care on Saturday,” continued Simon Price. “This is the first Saturday since restrictions have lifted on non-essential shops and hospitality venues, so we expect our towns and villages to be busy. Keep an eye out on the roads and if you see large gatherings of cars that you are worried about, contact Thames Valley Police by calling 999 if it is an emergency and 101 if it is not an emergency.”
Thames Valley Police chief inspector Helen Kenny, deputy LPA commander for Bracknell and Wokingham, said: “We are aware of this event and have plans in place to respond.
“Car cruises can cause a danger to the public and cause disruption to our communities, additionally gathering in groups also risks an increase in transmission of Coronavirus and there are regulations in place to protect us all.
“We would ask that people do not gather for this or any other event and our officers will be on hand and will use the powers available to them in order to minimise this event’s impact on our communities. Where we see people gathering and knowingly putting others at potential risk from Coronavirus our officers will look to use enforcement be it through dispersal, fines or even arrest.
“We will continue to work with our partners at Wokingham Borough Council and other local authorities to keep our communities safe.”
Simon Price added: “If anyone reading this is planning to attend the illicit car rally, we would urge you to reconsider. A large event like this needs careful planning and support to be safe and successful. This event does not have permission and could endanger those attending the rally and Wokingham borough residents and visitors. A gathering of this size would also breach the Government’s Covid-19 regulations and potentially cause a surge in positive cases in the area.
“Let’s have the focus of this weekend be on celebrating the reduction of Covid restrictions and the opportunities to visit our local shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, and to remember the life of the Duke of Edinburgh.”
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