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Boy racer problems could see Tonbridge follow Dartford in using Public Space Protection Orders

Tonbridge and Malling council may follow the recent example of Dartford council and use Public Space Protection Orders to clamp down on boy racers and car meets.

The borough already has a Public Spaces Protection Order in place that restricts a large number of activities across the borough but it expires in April next year.

The borough council is planning to take action
The borough council is planning to take action

The council is proposing not only to re-instate the order – they last for three years – but also to add a number of new anti-social activities not already covered.

The present order is mostly aimed at dog owners. It requires them to clean up after their pets, not to allow their dogs into children's play areas, and to keep them on a lead within certain named areas. It also prohibits one person being in charge of more than six dogs at a time in a public space.

But it also outlaws the use of barbecues in the borough's parks, and unauthorised swimming or boating at Leybourne Lakes.

The use of skateboards or other "wheeled vehicles" is banned from the Tonbridge Memorial Gardens to ensure the dignity of the memorial to the fallen from two World Wars.

Drinking alcohol is not banned outright in the borough's parks, but refusing to stop drinking when asked to do so by a police officer or a council official is.

The current order mostly targets dog owners
The current order mostly targets dog owners

Offences incur an £80 fixed penalty.

The new order would increase the fine to £100 and would also seek to outlaw vehicles from public open spaces.

This would catch nuisance bikers and off-roaders who use public parks, but it could also be used against motorists who park on grass verges.

But the order would specifically seek to contain the nuisance generated by car or motorcycle meetings.

The council says this has become a problem in parts of the borough including Hurst Hill in Walderslade and Willowmead in Leybourne.

The order would make it easier for police to clamp down on boy racers
The order would make it easier for police to clamp down on boy racers

There's also been a recurring problem at the Blue Bell Hill car park which has led to the car park closing at weekends.

The order would specifically prohibit driving in convoy, racing, performing stunts, sounding horns, revving engines, doing wheel spins, playing loud music and even congregating as a group around one or more stationary vehicles so as to cause distress through causing noise or exhaust fumes.

Public space orders can apply to all areas that the public has reasonable or implied access to even if they are privately owned. Supermarket car parks, for example, are included.

However, fines cannot be issued to those under 16.

The order will be debated by the council's cabinet members at meeting on Tuesday.

A large car meet last month in Greenhithe
A large car meet last month in Greenhithe

Dartford council recently introduced a Public Space Protection Order specifically to clamp down on meetings of boy racers at various locations across its borough.

Their activities at Crossways Boulevard in Greenhithe had become so well attended that spectators were taking garden chairs to sit and watch their activities from the side of the road.

However, residents complained that their lives were being made hell by the noise, and lorry drivers said they had been unable to access their depots because of the number of cars. More than 20 fines were issued in the two weekends following the establishment of the order.

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