Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper said that he has received complaints from residents in the Strand Road about a proposed PSNI “boy racers” engagement event to try and curb problems in the areas.
He said “Earlier this year I raised residents’ concerns that the introduction of a barrier at the former Budget DIY car park on the Strand Road at night time to prevent vehicles entering the site had simply moved the problem a further couple of hundred yards up the road and is now impacting on the lives of local residents living near Smyths car park.
Since then we have held meetings with residents and the PSNI to try and resolve these issues. We have called for a twin track approach of enforcement and education around these issues. This has been based on the fact that whilst some of those gathering earlier in the evenings may be open to reducing their activities through education, it is clear that enforcement is key to dealing with the hardcore including those who gather later at night with no concerns about the impact their behaviour has on local residents.
Some residents have contacted me this week on hearing reports in the media that at an event on the Strand Road site would see the PSNI handing out pizza to the ‘boy racing’ fraternity and holding a raffle for some tickets for Go –Karting.
I have contacted the PSNI and raised the residents’ concerns that this would be seen as a reward to the boy racers who are causing problems. They have taken those concerns on board and have agreed to scale back the event so that whilst the racers are engaged by the PSNI they are similarity not being given material incentives to stop their behaviour. I am also in talks with others to seek a longer term solution to this issue and would also encourage residents who have any evidence of criminality amongst the boy racers to either contact the police or myself with the information. This will allow proper enforcement and also remove the stigma from those racers who are not causing problems’