Anti-social drivers in Burgess Hill could end up with a criminal record after Mid Sussex District Council placed a protection order on the entire town.
Speeding, racing, stunt driving and noise late into the evening have long been a problem, particularly in town centre car parks, with more than 140 complaints received by police between November 2017 and June 2019.
At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday night, it was agreed that a public space protection order should be placed on all six of the town’s wards as well as the car park at the burial ground.
Anthea Lea (Con, Lindfield) told the meeting that almost all of the 102 people who responded to a consultation agreed the order was needed.
She said: “It’s important we use the power that Parliament has given us to keep our communities safe.”
A report to the meeting said breaching the order was a criminal offence and could lead to a fine via a fixed penalty notice of up to £100. Failure to pay could lead to prosecution, which could land drivers with a £1,000 fine or even a prison sentence.
Norman Webster, cabinet member for community, stressed that the council’s anti-social behaviour team had been working closely with Sussex Police for several years in an effort to address the problem.
Mr Webster said the protection orders had proved effective elsewhere and that people reporting anti-social driving had helped ‘greatly’ in bringing this one forward.
He added: “So often residents will report something to the police and then they feel that nothing happens to that information. Well in this case it’s been exceedingly helpful.”
Robert Eggleston (Lib Dem, Burgess Hill – Meeds) said: “Regrettably it’s a small minority of drivers who actually spoil it for the young people who just want to gather, chat, talk about cars and the size of their wheels and exhaust pipes, for some strange reason.
“This order, because of the way it’s applied and as long as residents do report it, should address that problem.”