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Councils and police team up to seek Black Country car cruise ban

Four local councils have teamed up with West Midlands Police to seek a ground breaking injunction to ban car cruising.

Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall councils, working in partnership with West Midlands Police, have submitted an application to the High Court in Birmingham.

They are seeking to forbid people from participating in a "car cruise" anywhere within the Black Country, and from promoting, organising or publicising such an event within the area.

Car cruising - in which "boy racers" meet to race or show off their cars on the public highway - is noisy, dangerous and illegal, with at least 4 fatalities in the Black Country associated with the craze.

Gatherings take place on a regular basis at a number of "hotspots" around the Black Country, including the Black Country Route in Bilston and Birmingham New Road on the border of Wolverhampton and Dudley.

These meetings can attract up to 250 vehicles and hundreds of spectators, and have prompted scores of complaints from businesses and local residents to local councils and West Midlands Police over the last few years.

These relate to complaints about vehicles and spectators obstructing highways or residential or business properties, to dangerous driving, excessive noise from revving engines and stereo systems, littering, verbal abuse, swearing and intimidation. There have also been a number of collisions involving vehicles taking part in a car cruise.

The applicants hope to secure an injunction against "persons unknown" - and anyone suspected of breaching it would be in contempt of court, for which an adult can face up to 2 years in prison and a fine. Police would retain their powers to convict motorists of offences such as driving without insurance, driving an unroadworthy vehicle or driving without due care and attention.

As well as seeking to prevent acts of dangerous driving, and the obvious dangers that they pose, the application led by Wolverhampton City Council also looks to address other problems associated with car cruising.

Speaking on behalf of the partners, Councillor Elias Mattu, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said: "Car cruising has been a bone of contention for local residents and businesses for many years.

"The activities are not only wholly anti social, but also illegal and dangerous, putting the safety of participants and spectators at risk; indeed, it's only a matter of time until more people are seriously injured or even killed.

"Black Country councils and the police have received numerous complaints about car cruising - from dangerous driving to noise, verbal abuse and intimidation, and we are determined to do all we can to put a stop to this menace.

"Our application doesn't just seek to prevent acts of dangerous driving, it also looks to tackle some of the wider problems caused by car cruising, from criminal behaviour such as drug taking and littering and the burden on police resources and the emergency services in the event of accidents, to personal costs to residents and businesses like sleep deprivation, obstruction, fear, harassment and intimidation.

"This is a complex, longstanding and significant multi faceted problem, and the Black Country boroughs collectively consider we are taking an innovative, partnership based approach to try to resolve this and fulfil our statutory duties to the areas we serve."

Chief Inspector Kerry Blakeman, head of West Midlands Police's Traffic unit, said: "Securing this injunction would form the backbone of our ongoing measures to target people using the road as a racetrack while ensuring the safety of others.

"As well as the obvious dangers of driving at speed on urban roads, car cruising generates a lot of late night noise nuisance for people living near key routes.

"Law abiding drivers can also feel intimidated when they inadvertently find themselves in the middle of a gathering."

An initial hearing before Judge Owen QC at the High Court (Birmingham District Registry) on Tuesday 30 September, 2014, was adjourned to a date to be confirmed.

  • released: Wednesday 15 October, 2014