Concerns have been raised over car enthusiasts causing anti-social behaviour, but police are keen to stress that these people “are not hooligans”.

Members of modified car club Cruise Herts have been holding weekly meets at Fairlands Valley Showground on Broadhall Way in Stevenage, resulting in complaints from residents relating to noise and speeding.

Peter Gates, who lives in St Margarets, says the club’s Thursday Night Takeover event “causes a great deal of anxiety for residents”.

He said: “There is excessive noise and residents have complained about having their children awoken, and pets becoming distressed as if it were bonfire night.

“I have complained to the police about attendees leaving the rally and holding races on Broadhall Way, as it is likely to result in an accident, causing injury or even death.

“The event needs to be stopped or moved to a time better suited, such as the weekend, to avoid school nights.”

Organiser Dean Summerbee, 34, said: “People assume we are boy racers, but we are very family-orientated and we are keeping kids off the streets.

“People spend a lot of time and money on their vehicles and they just want to show them off.

“Speeding is going to happen now and again because new people come along who we don’t know, but we crack down on it straightaway by passing their registration details to the police.”

Dean says people do rev their engines, with ‘flame off’ competitions to see who can produce the biggest flame from their exhaust, but added that the meets end at 10pm.

He said: “We don’t want to be a nuisance, we just want a place to meet up.”

Neighbourhood inspector Simon Tabert said: “I understand why people may feel intimidated, but they are not hooligans. They are architects and accoutants and some of the cars are high value.

“When they gather, we go up there and the police presence does cause them to moderate any revving of engines or loud music.

“There will be a low number who go off and drive at excessive speed, but the vast majority are peaceful and welcome our presence. It’s not ideal, but I’m happy to tolerate the meet where it is.

“It’s not ideal, but I’m happy to tolerate the meet where it is. If it were to go somewhere else it could be more visible, more audible and more dangerous.”