Two public meetings hear concerns from residents while local councillors, police officers and Transport for London pledge to get a grip on the issue, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Car meets could be banned across Enfield following calls for action from residents whose lives have been blighted by noise and dangerous driving.
The council is planning to expand its current public space protection order (PSPO) against car meets to cover the whole borough rather than specific designated areas, with a consultation on the proposal set for November.
PSPOs work by banning nuisance behaviour in public spaces, with those caught breaking the rules liable to face fines or prosecution.
In the short term, new bollards and concrete blocks have been installed at the car park of Colosseum Retail Park beside the A10 dual carriageway, to prevent it being used by drivers performing “dangerous stunts”.
It comes on top of measures previously implemented by Transport for London (TfL), which included installing average speed cameras along a section of the A10 between the M25 and Southbury Road.
But during a public meeting on Monday (9th) – the second to discuss the topic in the space of a week – residents and councillors called for further measures to crackdown on speeding drivers with modified exhausts, who have been causing noise pollution and endangering residents for years.
James Hockney, a Bush Hill Park ward councillor who has long campaigned on the issue, convened Monday’s public meeting on the speeding problems at St Peter’s Church, Grange Park.
Cllr Hockney has drawn up an eight-point charter designed to stop the problems. It calls on the council to seek an injunction against illegal car cruising and meets, deploy antisocial behaviour officers and mobile CCTV to hotspots, amend the PSPO to cover the whole of the borough, and take enforcement action against car park owners who fail to install security measures.
The charter also urges TfL to introduce noise cameras along the A10, rollout average speed cameras from Southbury Road to Great Cambridge Junction, and bring back the “enhanced police resources” of City Hall’s ‘vision zero’ operation.
During the meeting, residents gave accounts of how car meets and dangerous driving had affected their lives.
Louise, who lives in Edmonton, said speeding cars and noise had been a problem for 17 years and were getting worse, causing her sleepless nights. She said she grew up in Enfield, but this and other problems in the borough meant she wanted to move away.
“I would like to learn to drive,” Louise said. “It’s one thing that I’ve never done […] But it scares me just being a passenger in a car when we have had cars come from behind and just speed like idiots. That really, really scares me.”
She said the borough-wide injunction was a “great idea” to prevent illegal car meets and called on councillors to work together to deal with the problems and “listen to the people of Enfield”.
Mike, a driving instructor who specialises in disability tuition, said his car had been hit 35 times during the 17 years he had been teaching.
He added: “We get tailgated constantly, we see the most stupid and reckless driving. What makes it worse is that as a disability instructor, I teach people that have to use adaptations, which, if they are not used to [them], they will hit the wrong pedal and hand control, and things do go horribly wrong.”
Representatives from the Metropolitan Police and TfL attended the meeting and were questioned by the public. Mike said an academic paper had been drawn up proposing using undercover police officers in learner cars but the idea was not even trialled, despite the cost to the Met being “almost zero”. He asked for covert policing to catch dangerous drivers.
Inspector Richard Lee, from the Met Police, said only two of his 15 officers were trained to drive on blue lights, and Enfield was at a disadvantage because it is halfway between two garages. He said he agreed with the need for a covert approach but did not have the resources to do it, although he pledged to raise the issue with the Met.
Officers explained that members of the public could upload dashcam footage to help catch dangerous drivers using the Met’s website. They also insisted that drivers using fake number plates to try and dodge speed cameras were stopped and taken to court.
When a resident asked why speed humps were not used on the A10, Rob Varney, from TfL, said introducing them would probably be “more dangerous than it is effective in reducing speeds”.
Quizzed on what actions TfL would take, Rob said speed and noise cameras were “some of the things we can look at”. He said local authorities had installed noise pollution cameras and encouraged Enfield Council to explore the option.
Rob added: “I have committed to listening, and I’ve heard some very good ideas this evening. I will continue to work with our policing team, and hopefully we will find some solutions.”
Cllr Hockney said TfL had committed to working with road transport police on carrying out additional speed checks. He added that he had spoken to three car park owners about how they could help resolve the problem and would have a series of meetings with them.
Local councillors will lobby the council and TfL to implement the charter he has drawn up.
A separate meeting on A10 car meets was convened by Enfield North MP Feryal Clark last week. Around 80 members of the public attended to hear from the Met Police, London Assembly member Joanne McCartney, councillors, and co-organiser Joy Cowley-Smith.
Enfield Town resident Will Hoyle, who was in the audience, said the police told the meeting they had been conducting monthly operations against car meets, and had issued over 100 summonses, seized 60 cars and issued more than 250 community protection notices.
Councillors Rick Jewell and Gina Needs told the audience about the PSPO expansion and the possibility of a borough-wide injunction, but Will said residents wanted more assurances that action would be taken and it was “difficult to get fixed dates” for the PSPO implementation.
Joanne McCartney said she would continue to lobby TfL for additional cameras.
Commenting on the meeting, Feryal said: “Since becoming the local MP for Enfield North I have received hundreds of complaints from residents regarding the hugely disruptive car meetups and dangerous races taking place on and around the A10.
“Therefore, the residents’ meeting last week was essential to discuss what we can do to tackle these problems. It is clear that car meets, static or otherwise, are not welcome unless they are licensed.
“It was also agreed that we need to work with the landowners to put in place physical measures, which I am pleased to say has been done.
“Enfield Council will seek to expand its current PSPO against car meets to cover the whole borough, as well as committing to sharing progress with any PSPOs and any targeted enforcement results (through a dedicated page on their website) to keep residents informed.
“The police and council agreed to form a taskforce to put in place interim and permanent solutions, as well as have one point of contact for residents. We also agreed to look into whether transport police can deploy mobile sound cameras in Enfield.
“I personally agreed to chair another meeting in six to twelve months’ time if we have not seen progress, and we all agreed that we need to see more stop and spot checks on all modified cars driving in the borough with specific and specialised insurance checks.”