Great Yarmouth Borough Council consults on whether to continue legal order tackling irresponsible vehicle use
GREAT Yarmouth Borough Council is consulting the public over whether to continue legal powers which aim to tackle vehicle-related anti-social behaviour on and near Great Yarmouth seafront.
In February 2017, the borough council created a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for an initial three years as part of multi-agency work to tackle the unacceptable behaviour of a minority of car enthusiasts and their passengers, who cause a nuisance for others.
Developed with the support of Norfolk Constabulary and Norfolk County Council, the PSPO prohibits anyone from participating in or encouraging such activities as driving at excessive speed, repeated and sudden rapid acceleration, racing vehicles or performing stunts.
Where someone breaks the PSPO conditions, the order allows enforcement action to be taken by police officers and authorised council officers. The penalty is an £80 fixed penalty notice (reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days) and/or prosecution, which could lead to a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record.
Between 2016 and 2018, the number of reports to Norfolk Constabulary of vehicle-related anti-social behaviour incidents within the PSPO area reduced by 29 per cent. While the council has issued 22 fixed penalty notices for breaches identified by council or police officers, the number of complaints received by the council about noise from vehicles in the PSPO area has fallen to zero since the introduction of the PSPO.
The order is currently due to expire on February 1, 2020. The council is therefore holding a public consultation, from Friday, November 8 to Friday, December 6, to ask individuals and organisations whether they would like to continue the order for another three years. Full council will make a decision in December, having considered the responses.
People can take part in the consultation at www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/have-your-say Paper consultation forms are also available at the three neighbourhood offices, Town Hall reception and housing offices.
Cllr Penny Carpenter, chairman of the environment committee, said: "We welcome the vast majority of car enthusiasts and their passengers, who choose to drive and show their vehicles in a safe and sensible manner, and add to the vibrancy of our family resort, including at our popular Wheels Festival. However, there is an anti-social minority, many of them fully-grown adults, who behave in a way that is completely unacceptable, immature, inconsiderate and sometimes dangerous.
"After an increase in vehicle-related complaints on the seafront, we brought in these additional enforcement powers in 2017 for an initial three years, as part of ongoing partnership work to address this serious issue for our communities. At the time, 91 per cent of consultees supported creation of the order. Since 2017, I'm pleased we have taken successful enforcement action on a number of occasions and seen a drop in incidents reported and complaints.
"There remains, unfortunately, an element of car enthusiasts causing harassment, alarm, distress and intimidation to residents, visitors and businesses, so for now I personally believe we need to keep the PSPO to help support our ongoing joint action in taking a firm line on this issue.
"I am all too aware of the impact these actions have on residents, visitors and businesses, particularly the residents, who just cannot escape this anti-social behaviour. The partnership working by all agencies involved should be commended, and this PSPO has been a welcome addition to those agencies in carrying out their lawful duties. I would hope that our community views this in a positive light and would encourage them to express their views in the consultation."
Superintendent Mike Britton, Great Yarmouth & North Norfolk Policing Commander, said: "I believe over the last three years the PSPO, which relates to anti-social behaviour using vehicles on the seafront in Great Yarmouth, has been a really positive piece of legislation which has helped tackle anti-social behaviour from low level nuisance associated with vehicles congregating.
"Officers have used the legislation appropriately to engage with drivers and vehicle enthusiasts that come together in Great Yarmouth. Since its implementation, seven breaches have been recorded by police which highlights that the legislation is being applied proportionally and the majority of vehicle owners and users are law abiding and understand the reason for the order.
"I am confident that this preventative tool has helped engage with vehicle owners and allows them to appreciate and show their vehicles appropriately without causing harassment, alarm or distress to local residents and other road users.
"It is my belief that the legislation is both proportionate and necessary for the current levels of vehicle associated anti-social behaviour reported to us for the area that is covered. Without this order we would see a rise in reports of anti-social behaviour linked to vehicles around the seafront in Great Yarmouth, the PSPO sends a clear message to car owners and drivers that using a vehicle inappropriately is unacceptable."