POLICE have been given extra powers in a bid to clamp down on the ‘car meets’ which have been taking place in near Skelmersdale.
There has recently been a big increase in pre-arranged car meets taking place at Pimbo Industrial Estate, often with more than 300 vehicles taking part.
The car meets are arranged in secret, online and happen without prior warning, making them difficult to pre-empt and police.
West Lancashire Borough Council has now unanimously backed a move to give police powers to impose a Public Space Protection Order.
The use of PSPOs is considered to be the best way of preventing future problems locally and has been adopted as best practice in other local authorities where similar problems exist.
A PSPO gives police the power to act quickly to stop the gatherings of car cruisers and racers who are likely to cause, nuisance or distress to residents and businesses.
Councillor Gareth Dowling, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for community safety, said: “The council sought to take decisive action over these unauthorised meetings – the time has now come to put a stop to them.
“Residents and businesses have endured the significant impacts these gatherings of performance cars have had and we hope this news will bring them some relief.
“Thank you to our partners in Lancashire Constabulary who have been met with hostility by ‘racegoers’ using our borough as a dangerous racetrack.
“We will continue to work together to see these car meets stopped for good.”
Chief Inspector Chris Abbott of West Lancashire Neighbourhood Police added: “We have listened to feedback from residents on how they feel about these gatherings and are committed to working with our partners to combat matters of this nature.
“Car meets such as these can impact people’s quality of life, cause distress to residents often to the point where they don’t feel safe in the area they live.
“Tackling nuisance such as this is a priority and following the implementation of this PSPO we will ensure action is taken and continue to reassure members of the public.”
Public Spaces Protection Orders aim to prevent excessive noise, danger to road users and pedestrians, risk of damage to private property, litter and any nuisance caused to any other person.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has welcomed the move. In October 2021, the MP had raised concerns with the police about drag racing gatherings in Pimbo asking what can be done to put a stop to them before someone was seriously hurt.
The police confirmed at the time they were applying to the council for a ‘Public Space Protection Order’ to make such gatherings an offence and put a stop to them
Ms Cooper said: “Whilst it is frustrating that it took so long for this PSPO to be issued, I am glad the authorities now have the powers necessary to really crack down on this illegal car racing.
“We need to continue to be proactive in fighting anti-social behaviour, especially in situations like this where there is serious risk to others.”