One resident told Oswestry Town Council that she had been shouted at by drivers congregating in the town’s Central car park, while others said they were constantly woken by horns blaring and engines revving.
Concerns were also raised that fumes from cars performing ‘doughnuts’ were impacting the health of elderly neighbours.
The town council, which decided in October not to pursue possible changes to the layout of the car park to ‘design out’ the problem, has now agreed to ask Shropshire Council to look into issuing a public spaces protection order (PSPO).
If agreed, the order – made under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – could see a ban brought in on anti-social behaviour in the car park. Those who break the rules can be issued with fines of £75, rising to £1,000 if taken to court over a breach.
Mayor Duncan Kerr, who tabled the motion at a meeting on Wednesday evening, said: “I’m aware that other councils have used this legislation to deal with this problem and Shropshire Council has used it to deal with a different problem.”
People living near the car park spoke at the meeting, including Peter Lloyd, secretary of Trinity Area Residents’ Association, which has campaigned for several years for improvements to the car park.
He said the council’s decision not to commission a study into changes to the design of the car park had left “no workable solution to the joyriding problem”.
'Decades-long failure to invest'
He said: “That car park generates nearly half a million pounds worth of revenue for the council every year. You can afford the feasibility study.
“After witnessing this council’s stewardship of the car park over many years we believe the priority has consistently been given to maximising revenue, leading to a decades-long failure to invest adequately.”
He said the association supported the move to consider a PSPO as “your decision in October closed off any other practical remedy”.
He added that guidance on PSPOs stressed the need for the orders to be used alongside other measures as part of a wider anti-social behaviour strategy, but there was no such strategy in place covering the car park.
Another resident by the name of Delia said the health and welfare of people living in Regent Court retirement complex, which overlooks the car park, was being “totally neglected” by the lack of action to tackle the issue.
A third resident said people’s mental health was being affected by the constant noise late in the evening, while a fourth asked why the car park could not be closed at night entirely.
Councillor Vince Hunt seconded the mayor’s motion, saying that while a PSPO could potentially push the problem to other areas of the town it would at least grant residents living near the car park “some relief” while its effectiveness was assessed.
Councillors unanimously voted to ask Shropshire Council to consult with police and the Police and Crime Commissioner on the possibility of a PSPO.
Shropshire Council has one active PSPO in Shrewsbury town centre to address issues including drug and alcohol misuse and littering.