Our clampdown on supercars in Knightsbridge has been very widely reported over the last few days, with press calls coming in from all over the place, including the Gulf. It makes a change I suppose from enquiries from Local Government Computing Monthly which is more the sort of publicity I’m used to.
So what’s it all about? Well, the Council isn’t joining the fight against globalisation and the international super-rich. It’s much more straightforward that that: it’s about a good night’s sleep for our residents.
We’re not killjoys. Like any chap I know the joy of taking my wheels for a ride on a summer’s evening; windows down, music on. But the fact is my Honda Jazz and Elgar CD are barely audible even at the kerbside.
McLarens, Ferraris, Bugattis and Lamborghinis are a very different story.
Over the last few years, Knightsbridge has become a magnet for a number of young men, mostly from the Middle-East, who drive supercars. It’s a sort of competitive peacocking really and routes and behaviours have quickly evolved.
Those behaviours include speeding, causing obstruction and worst of all, engine revving.
Now if you are a Top Gear type who wants to see a Bugatti Veyron up close, this is all good news, I suppose, but if you are a resident living in a formerly quiet backstreet, it’s a disaster.
Supercars often have something called ‘sports mode’. Switch it on and rev your engine while stationary and it’s loud enough to raise the dead, never mind blow someone’s hat off.
So if you have got several cars doing it intermittently into the small hours it soon becomes intolerable. Many of our residents are at the end of their tether quite frankly and so we felt we had to do something.
What we are going to use is something called a Public Space Protection Order which, amongst other things, will make it an offence to rev engines in certain streets in Knightsbridge. If we catch someone breaching the order we can issue a fixed penalty notice of £100.
Of course we’re not expecting Zonda and Veyron drivers to quail at a ticket for a mere hundred quid, but we’ll be keeping track.
If they rack up a few tickets they might just find their cars being seized by the police. Hopefully that will start to have a salutary effect.