Wokingham Borough Council has taken the first step towards creating a Public Spaces Protection Order to prevent unauthorised car meets in the borough.
At an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday (22 March), the council’s executive unanimously supported a move to ask residents for their views on creating an order that would restrict nuisance activities associated with unauthorised car meets such as dangerous driving, aggressive acceleration and braking, skidding, handbrake turns, engine revving, sounding horns, foul language, and threatening behaviour.
This comes after 80 incidents were reported to the council and/or police over the last two years, with hotspots at the Carnival Hub car park in Wokingham town, the Mereoak Park and Ride near Three Mile Cross, and supermarket car parks across the borough. Residents complain about the noise, car exhaust and dangerous driving associated with these car meets.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 requires that the activity restricted by the order has a detrimental effect on residents’ quality of life and that the activity is persistent or ongoing. According to the council, the number and regularity of the incidents meet the criteria set out in the act.
If the Public Spaces Protection Order is created, the council will have another tool in its toolbox to tackle anti-social behaviour of all sorts across Wokingham borough. From 1 April, the council is launching a new service to improve residents’ quality of life by addressing a range of concerns such as noisy neighbours, fly tipping, nuisance bonfires, abandoned vehicles or bothersome vehicle use including car meets, noise and dust from building sites, unauthorised advertising, mismanagement of waste and unlawful encampments.
Officers will also attend disturbances in public places like drinking, barbecues or out-of-control dogs and will focus on ‘hot spots’, including parks and open spaces, where problems are most frequently reported.
The new service includes an animal warden to handle stray dogs, tackle animal neglect and promote responsible ownership.
The team will also work closely with food safety officers who in turn work with retailers, pubs and restaurants, and will have licensing officers overseeing alcohol sales, betting shops, arcades and taxis as well as a housing team supervising landlords in the private rented sector.
The new service will provide a visible presence across the borough, and be available seven days a week, including weekend nights and all-day Sunday. To learn more about the new service, read the ‘New team to lead crackdown on anti-social behaviour’ article on the council’s news site.
Cllr Bill Soane, executive member for neighbourhoods and communities, said: “We’ve been working on a range of measures to stop these nuisance car meets for years now and are pleased to be able to move forward with a Public Spaces Protection Order. We will be asking residents what they think about it and if we get general support from residents and our partners, we will pursue creating the order to try and stop these from happening anywhere in the borough.
“The noise, pollution and danger of these meets really impacts our residents’ quality of life and we are doing all we can to prevent these from happening again. We will get to work now on a survey and come back to residents when it is ready, to ask for their views. I would encourage all residents to take the survey, so we can put a stop to these nuisance events once and for all.”
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