The dangerous Croydon Cruise staged along Imperial Way is now subject to a High Court injunction, with those breaking the legal ruling facing unlimited fines, two years in prison, or both.
But yesterday’s application nearly failed thanks to the lawyers acting for two bungling south London boroughs, and the hearing ended with officials for Croydon Council claiming it did not have enough money to pay for leaflets to publicise the ban.
At least Croydon’s legal team managed to get to the hearing. The paperwork prepared for Sutton Council turned up at the court 15 minutes late and the Deputy High Court Judge Karen Steyn QC refused to include an application to have the legal ban on speeding cars, bikes and quads extended to neighbouring roads in their borough.
Residents and businesses based on the industrial estate off the Purley Way remain concerned for their lives and livelihoods, which they see as being put at risk by the weekly anti-social displays of speeding, hand-brake turns and reckless driving.
The court yesterday heard of the fatal collision during the summer when motorcyclist Carl Simpson was killed and of the life-changing injuries suffered by a 21-year-old pedestrian, but also of other high-speed accidents, one involving a 13-year-old boy on a motorbike, and another which saw a guest staying at the Grand Sapphire Hotel badly injured.
Croydon Council this week installed speed humps on Imperial Way and two other roads on the industrial estate to try to deter the Cruisers, though one eye-witness who works there suggests that some motorbike riders have already begun including the bumps in their speed challenges.
There’s also worries that the injunction, which applies to a specified area only, will simply force the Cruisers to meet up on other roads off the Purley Way. The car park at Valley Park, close to Ikea, is already known as a gathering point for some Cruise vehicles. Or they could use the uninjuncted roads of Sutton.
“The council has had a legal injunction before, but that didn’t stop them,” said the owner of a business based close to Imperial Way. “The only way you’re going to stop them is if the police do their job and do some policing. They already have plenty of powers to stop vehicles for dangerous and reckless driving. But the police seem reluctant to use manpower on a Friday evening or over the weekends.
“How many people have to die or spend their life in a coma before the police start taking real action?”
A previous injunction taken out by Croydon Council was allowed to run down two years ago when the Town Hall’s legal brains assumed, wrongly, that new Public Space Protection Orders could be used against the drivers, riders and the many spectators who gather each week, some even staging barbecues alongside the road during the event.
According to Andrew Pelling, a Labour councillor for Waddon ward who attended yesterday’s court hearing, PSPOs were never practical. “The need to provide a warning is impractical for police dealing with occupants in fast-moving vehicles,” Pelling said.
Judge Steyn did grant the injunction, but significantly altered from that which Croydon Council had sought.
Croydon Council applied for an indefinite ban, which the judge refused, and the council’s application for the injunction to be applied to Cruise spectators was also refused.
The council’s propaganda department, however, last night issued this piece of deliberate misinformation: “The council successfully applied for a three-year injunction to give police greater enforcement powers over the racing, known as the Croydon Cruise.” Which is simply untrue.
In fact, Croydon’s lawyers were sent scurrying from Court 12 at the Royal Courts in the Strand and told by the judge to re-draft their application.
Granting the revised order, Judge Steyn said, “The claimant has made a case. Racing and stunt riding is dangerous for those actively involved in it, for those watching it, and those passing by. Car cruising also causes serious public disquiet.”
The ruling is set to be reviewed at a court hearing in 12 months’ time.
“Judge Steyn denied Croydon’s request for spectators to also be subject to arrest powers,” Pelling said.
“With the case being against ‘persons unknown’, the judge worried that in such a case of ‘Croydon against the world’ that it went too far for possible ordinary members of the public going about their everyday business being subject to arbitrary arrest.”
The judge has ordered Croydon Council to use Twitter and Facebook to publicise the injunction and also demanded that they make a video about the Cruise ban and post it on YouTube. The judge withdrew a suggestion that a leaflet should also be produced when the council stated that it could not afford this.
No expense spared by Croydon Council to save people’s lives, then.
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