Early night for boy racers
Car park locking plan to tackle late-night menace
Noisy and nuisance drivers are keeping residents up at night by revving their engines and doing ‘doughnuts’ in an Ashford car park.
The sound of screeching tyres, horns beeping and loud music are just some of the issues residents living close to the Stour Centre, off Tannery Lane, are having to put up with.
The racket is created by tearaways who descend on the centre’s car park at night, and use it for their social gatherings.
The problem is causing havoc for those living in Mill Court, which lies just across the river and opposite the car park.
Now, following complaints from neighbours about the antisocial behaviour, Ashford Borough Council (ABC) is bringing in new measures to tackle the problems.
From next month, the car park’s entrance in Tannery Lane will be locked from 11.15pm, while the gates in Station Road will close at 9pm.
The car park will then reopen every morning at 5am.
In addition, ABC is considering placing a public spaces protection order (PSPO) on the site.
PSPOs specify an area where activities are taking place that are or may likely be detrimental to the local community’s quality of life and can impose conditions or restrictions on people using the area.
An council spokesman said the trouble in the car park has been happening for years.
He said: “The car park has been closed at night for more than five years as a response to anti-social behaviour associated with people using the car park late at night.
“The new closure time of 11.15pm is 45 minutes earlier, with one entrance closing at 9pm.
“The trialling of an earlier closure is due to continued reports of anti-social behaviour associated with drivers of cars using the area.”
Currently the car park closes at midnight and opens at 5am.
The spokesman added that the council has already tried “a number of initiatives to reduce the problems” and have even taken enforcement action, including writing to the owners of the vehicles, issuing Community Protection Notice warnings and Section 59 notices, a warning that will last 12 months.
He added: “Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, T-cat, civil enforcement cfficers and the street pastors have all tried engaging with the car users, highlighting the problems that are being experienced by the residents of Mill Court.
“Enforcement action has also been taken by Kent Police and Ashford Borough Council.
“While these measures have often had a positive impact, it is only for a short period of time.
“As well as trialling the earlier closure we are working with our community safety partners to see if a public spaces protection order would be appropriate.”
The new closing times will be trialled for four months, after which there will be a review.
It will come into effect on Wednesday, October 14.
For more information visit www.ashford.gov.uk/ashfordtown-parking
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Tyre tracks in Stour Centre car
The view of Stour Centre car park from Mill Court