A resident from the Quay Lane area of Enniskillen has implored members of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) for help to quell the longstanding issue of “rallying” in and around a car park, which is having a detrimental impact of the lives of those living right beside it.

The disclosure appeared to come as no surprise to anyone at the meeting, demonstrated by the area being colloquially renamed ‘Cruisers’ car park’ indicating an established pattern. Despite attempts to address it, the situation continues unabated, making residents lives unbearable. There has been input from the Department of Infrastructure, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and PSNI, but the problem prevails.

Superintendent Clive Beatty explained education programmes have been held, aiming to address the attitudes of drivers toward safety and avoiding getting a criminal record. While engagement was good, the problem persists. Some members expressed empathy for the young people contending they have nowhere else to go, and it was unfair to penalise or criminalise them.

But others took a more robust approached deeming the continuous disruption of residents’ lives an infringement on their human rights.

Addressing members, the representing resident said he was horrified by the level of noise, the speed of drivers, the continuousness of loud driving including overnight disrupting sleep and the fact nothing is working to stop or even reduce the problem.

He also described an unpleasant experience with a PSNI call handler when he rang in to report cars speeding.

“I was concerned for safety of all – residents and drivers – and when I said the cars were flying, she asked me ‘Have you a speedometer in your house?’ I didn’t like that remark.”

Superintent Beatty was annoyed by this response and apologised on behalf of PSNI for the “totally inappropriate” conduct of the call handler.

He said, “That was poor. The call handler is supposed to focus on your needs, not his or her opinions or attitudes.”

In respect of driving matters Superintendent Beatty assured residents: “Have our full support. However, it isn’t just a police problem. I guarantee as soon as we arrive on the scene, the speed goes down. We are trying to address this not only with education but enforcement of law. But we can’t do it on our own. To be honest I think it’s going to be a while before we find a solution to your (residents) satisfaction.”

Superintent Beatty explained during a Driver Vehicle Agency operation in October, 12 cars were seized, of which 11 were found to be unroadworthy due to modifications.

Owners were given time to have their vehicles rectified and retested, with all 11 subsequently passing.

Alarmingly, it was then claimed after driving away from retesting in these instances, vehicles are swiftly returned to their modified state and back out on the roads. In response to an enquiry on the catchment area of those involved, members were told the majority are “local to Fermanagh.”

PCSP Manager Carol Follis pointed out stereotypes did not apply:, “This is not just confirmed to males. Young women are just as involved. There has been anti-social driving by females also.”

Members enquired on the criminal aspects and if the law is strong enough for such “outrageous behaviour”.

Superintendent Beatty stressed it was important to bear in mind the problems come about by “boy and girl racers congregating.”

He said: “In their minds, they are going out to socialise, but through their actions, this is impacting on others. We are applying all we can in law. Education hasn’t worked but enforcement isn’t working either.”

Asked whether insurance companies are blacklisting drivers caught with unroadworthy cars or other similar issues arising from detection, Superintendent Beatty said, “Some work with us, some don’t. Some do operate a blacklist but their purpose is to make money so they are unlikely to turn people away.”

Agreeing matters “have gone too far and something needs to be done”, the PCSP decided to invite the Permanent Secretaries from the Department of Justice and Department for Infrastructure as well as representatives from the Motor Insurance Bureau, to attend a future meeting and hear directly from concerned residents.

A number of questions around the issue were submitted to the Department for Infrastructure, but there was no reponse by the time this newspaper went to press.