Dis­per­sal zone will put brakes on boy rac­ers

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­group.co.uk

A CRACK­DOWN on boy rac­ers who roar round the Stour Cen­tre car park is about to be launched.

From Mon­day, po­lice will have the power to take trou­ble­some youths home if they are found con­gre­gat­ing in the leisure cen­tre’s car park and sur­rounded ar­eas.

A six-month dis­per­sal zone around the leisure cen­tre will also stop driv­ers who use the car park as a race track and al­low of­fi­cers to re­turn chil­dren un­der 16 home if they are out af­ter 9pm.

Sergeant Steve Gam­ble said: “We have re­ceived re­ports of un­bear­able noise and an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour caused by youths who con­gre­gate with their cars in the car park and use the area as a race track.

“The dis­per­sal area will al­low po­lice to dis­perse groups and ban them from the area for up to 24 hours.”

A group is con­sid­ered to be two or more peo­ple mis­be­hav­ing whether it be racing, play­ing loud mu­sic, shout­ing or just hang­ing around for no rea­son.

Sgt Gam­ble added: “Youths at­tend­ing the area for le­git­i­mate rea­sons have noth­ing to fear and may con­tinue to use the area as long as they are re­spon­si­ble and do not in­tim­i­date any mem­bers of the pub- lic or cause them ha­rass­ment, alarm or dis­tress.”

Po­lice say this will in­clude youngsters us­ing the skate park area. The dis­per­sal zone, pic­tured, in­cludes the Stour Cen­tre, its car parks as well as North Park, Tesco Ex­press off Mace Lane and the ad­ja­cent car park.

The prob­lem around the Stour Cen­tre has been go­ing on for a num­ber of years with re­ports of loud mu­sic, drag racing, wheel screech­ing and con­gre­gat­ing youths shout­ing and scream­ing.

Last year we re­ported on the story of Stan­hope res­i­dent Zoe Relf who was falsely ac­cused of be­ing a “boy racer” af­ter park­ing her Ford Fi­esta out­side the leisure cen­tre.

De­spite park­ing her car at the Stour Cen­tre be­cause she worked there as a cleaner, the 35-year-old re­ceived a let­ter from po­lice warn­ing her not to per­form wheel spins and 360 de­gree turns in her sil­ver Fi­esta.

It is hoped the six-month ban will com­pletely re­move boy rac­ers from the area. Both Ash­ford coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive John Bun­nett and South Kent po­lice chief Mark Not­tage have com­mit­ted to work­ing with the youths in the area for a longer-term so­lu­tion to the prob­lem come June when the dis­per­sal zone is lifted.

Po­lice also en­forced a dis­per­sal zone in the Court Wurtin area of Ash­ford in Oc­to­ber to run un­til Jan­uary. The area around Ash­ford’s Stour Cen­tre sub­ject to the po­lice dis­per­sal or­der

Pic­ture: Gary Browne PD1459378

Tyre marks left by boy rac­ers do­ing dough­nut spins at the Stour Cen­tre car park

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