Gearing up for boy racers

Police will have more powers to target boy racers through amendments to the Waipā Public Places Bylaw.

The suggested bylaw changes would prohibit light motor vehicles from travelling on specified roads between 9pm and 4am – which would enable police to move antisocial drivers and boy racers on.

Council’s Strategic Planning and Policy committee told staff this week to draft the bylaw and include a list of the roads police identify as ‘trouble spots’.

Adding additional wording to other clauses could also enable police to  prevent drivers from travelling along the same stretch of road repeatedly.

Susan O'Regan

Susan O’Regan

“This is one of the few levers we can pull in local government,” committee chair Susan O’Regan said. “We should be pulling this lever particularly in rural areas.”

This would offer a lifeline to those residents, like the ones who recently contacted her from Pukeatua, Bulmer’s Landing, Ngahinapouri and Arapuni, who night after night put up with boy racers.

“They feel set upon in their own homes. We can offer a lifeline and it’s up to the police to activate,” she said.

Reports to police of boy racer activity in the district went up 65 per cent to 386 last year. The increase was the highest in the Waikato region.

In his report to the committee, Strategic Projects driver Graham Pollard said the antisocial behaviour was dangerous for the participants and other road users.

“If Waipā does not take action to address this behaviour and neighbouring councils do, the district may end up dealing with its own antisocial driving activities and those displaced from neighbouring districts.”

Antisocial drivers cause property damage, create noise, and leave behind litter and debris.

“It is a noise nuisance for local residents – many of whom also feel intimidated by large gatherings of antisocial drivers and their spectators,” said Pollard.

The law prohibits unauthorised street or drag racing and donuts (sustained loss of traction).

Strengthening these prohibitions was something the council could do by utilising measures available in the Waipā District Public Places Bylaw 2018.

Police gave the council data on the roads affected by antisocial driving.

The data identifies whole roads but not problem locations on each road.

The Te Awamutu Community Board had asked the council to consider installing speed bumps, traffic islands or different road surfacing to deter antisocial driving.

Pollard said there would be a significant cost in doing that.

A new traffic island could cost $25,000 or more for each location, he said.

Mike Pettit

Cr Mike Pettit acknowledged the work done by staff on the bylaw proposals and identifying the problem areas.

“It just has to be a cost of doing business in Waipā because these people are absolute menaces.”

Mayor Jim Mylchreest said it was in discussion with police that the option of amending council bylaws came up.

“If it’s just one small thing we can do to help, I’m all for it.”

Cr Lou Brown said boy racers were not just creating a nuisance on roads, but all around community facilities such as parks and cemeteries.

The revised bylaw will come back to the committee’s May meeting and then go out for public notification. Submissions would be heard in August and the new bylaw adopted by September 27.

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