For years, the lives of the residents of London’s Knightsbridge have been blighted by the roar of high-performance cars being raced around Harrods and the surrounding streets.But help may finally be at hand for the long-suffering grandees, with a planned crackdown on the boy racers wrecking their peace.
Authorities are planning to introduce a new law that will make it a criminal offence for drivers to rev their engines, rapidly accelerate or play loud music.
Driving in a convoy, leaving the engine running while stationary and sounding the horn will also become illegal under the draconian regime.
The drivers largely come from the Gulf states, shipping in supercars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis that have been souped up and customised.
Sports cars covered in gold or crystals and costing millions of pounds have become a common sight in the streets around Harrods, especially in summer when the young men up sticks and head for London to escape the Gulf heat.
Fed up with the nuisance, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is planning to introduce new anti-social behaviour laws.In documents issued by the council last week it is proposing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) be imposed on a wide area of Knightsbridge that includes Harrods and surrounding streets.
The order will make it illegal for motorists to perform any of the following 11 activities: revving engines; speeding; sudden or rapid acceleration; driving in convoy; racing; leaving the engine of a stationary vehicle to run idle; performing stunts; sounding horns; playing music; using threatening, intimidating behaviour; or causing an obstruction on the road, whether moving or stationary.
In a consultation document the council said it was considering introducing the PSPO - a new power under the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act - in response to the “excessive level of noise, nuisance, annoyance, danger or risk of harm or injury” caused by boy racers plaguing one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Britain.
The consultation will run until September. Breaches of the PSPO will lead to fines and potential prosecution.Repeated breaking of the rules will lead to cars being seized by police.
Nick Paget-Brown, leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, said: “The area has become a destination for boy racers from the Gulf states, and their supercars make an enormous amount of noise.
“They rev their cars and they can be heard right across the neighbourhood. We wanted to find some way of tackling this and the best way forward is the PSPO. Residents have had to put up with too much for too long.”
Quentin Marshall, a Conservative councillor and a local resident who is pushing for the order, said: “The noise goes on all day but is worse in the evenings and at night. It used to be limited to the summer but now it’s becoming pretty much all year round. We are just trying to stop these people who are abusing the rules and using their cars to make a very loud noise."
Residents have welcomed the plans.Max Engelhard, 34, a financier who lives near Harrods, said: “That would be a great idea. Particularly around Harrods there are always Kuwaitis driving in their Lamborghinis. They use my square as a racing track."
Angela Stone, 55, a retired teacher, who also lives near the department store, said: “They just go round and round hoping to be looked at. They get out their diamond-studded cars and pose in them. It is irritating and completely unnecessary.”
One motorist parked outside Harrods said it was a fuss about nothing. Saddet Alketbi, 35, a businessman who divides his time between London and Dubai, said from the comfort of his white Rolls-Royce: ”[The cars] are not too noisy. It’s not so much of an issue. If there is one guy who makes a loud noise, then [the residents] think it’s everyone.”