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Boy racers use Medway City Estate as 'playground'

By Nicola Jordan

Boy racers are wreaking havoc on Medway City Estate, intimidating staff and leaving behind a trail of rubbish including drug paraphernalia.

Employees are confronted with piles of discarded fast-food wrappings, bottles and cans when they arrive on the Strood industrial estate.

And often their first task is to clear up after the vandals who are now arriving late afternoon during the week and in their droves at weekends.

Racing cars arrive at car park
Racing cars arrive at car park

The ongoing problem has got worse over the years with some offenders flashing at female staff who are now reluctant to work late.

Medway Council has issued criminal behaviour orders, which have replaced Asbos (anti-social behaviour orders), and police have recently carried out a two-day enforcement operation focusing on the private car park at Culpeper Close.

Businessman Matt Foy is among the many bosses who have spent thousands on CCTV, extra security and clearing up in a bid to stamp out the problem.

Mr Foy said: “These revellers turn up at evenings and weekends, leaving huge amounts of rubbish in our private car park.

“They use it as a race track leaving it covered in tyre marks caused by drifting and pulling handbrake turns and doughnuts.

“There has regularly been signs of substance abuse at our site and members of staff in our office block have witnessed anti-social behaviour, including verbal abuse, mooning and intimidating behaviour.

“They show a total disregard, ripping up trespass notices in our faces. It has become a free-for-all.”

Workers greeted with rubbish strewn across their car park
Workers greeted with rubbish strewn across their car park

Mr Foy, 46, who runs a marketing company, said cars were regularly arriving in the week from 4pm before people left work and were hanging around in the car park before racing at high speed.

Up to 20 cars are turning up at the weekend.

“They also light barbecues causing a fire hazard to scores of office units surrounding the car park.

Head of regulatory services at Medway Council James Brown said: “We have been working with businesses and the police to tackle anti-social behaviour in Culpeper Close and Laser Quay on Medway City Estate.

“Five vehicle owners have been given written warnings and another has been given a notice which states that if they are caught acting in an anti-social way again they could be fined £100 or, in more serious cases, face a court fine of £2,000.

“Anti-social behaviour is not tolerated in Medway. It can be detrimental to the local area and can have a negative impact on businesses.

“We will continue to monitor the area and work with the police and local businesses to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.

“We are currently working with partner agencies in an ongoing operation to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour in areas known to be an issue for residents, including the Medway City Estate, Courtney Road in Gillingham and the Strood retail park.”

Barbecues are considered a fire hazard
Barbecues are considered a fire hazard

Sergeant Steve Holpin, from the Medway Community Safety Unit, said: “Kent Police works closely with Medway Council to proactively target motorists who engage in nuisance behaviour.

“The partner agencies are currently taking part in an ongoing operation to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour in areas that are known to be an issue for residents, including the Medway City Estate, Courtney Road in Gillingham, Laser Quay and the Strood retail park.

“A recent weekend of enforcement activity resulted in two vehicles being seized and a 26-year-old man from High Halstow arrested for drink-driving.

“He has been released pending further inquiries.

“Four civil protection notices were also issued to motorists along with an additional four trespass notices.

“A breach of these notices is a criminal offence and can lead to a fine or enforcement action from the courts.

Rubbish dumped across car park
Rubbish dumped across car park

“Officers continue to patrol these areas and will deal with any further offences proportionately.”

Car fanatics, known as ‘cruisers’, can spend thousands of pounds modifying their vehicles. Many get together to show off their cars and drive them around.

Andy Dixey used to co-ordinate Medway Cruise Club, which met regularly in the evenings at Dockside Outlet Centre in Chatham.

He said: “The whole point of setting it up was to have organised and authorised events. It worked well because Dockside has its own security.

“But it got more and more popular and gradually a few troublemakers came along, so we had to call it a day.

“It became a health and safety problem. Up until then we did not have any issues.

“It’s things like this that are giving the cruising community a bad name.”

Cllr Jane Chitty
Cllr Jane Chitty

Ward councillor Jane Chitty added: “Our hands are tied. We have done everything as a council we can possibly do.

“It’s a vicious circle. People should not have to go to work and put up with this.”

Two years ago a total of 15 were injured, including a teenage boy, after a speeding Mini ploughed into a crowd on the estate.

Four men, aged between 20 and 50 were taken to a London hospital where they were treated for serious injuries. An 18-year-old from Eltham, south east London was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving following the night-time crash.

In the past police have responded to safety concerns by implementing a weekly dispersal order, but it can only operate for 48 hours.

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