Stevenage crash: Pleas with police to stop meets fell on deaf ears, say residents
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Pleading with police to put a stop to a car club’s weekly meets fell on deaf ears, says a man who believes last week’s horrific car crash in Stevenage which left 18 people injured was inevitable.
Emergency services were called at about 9.45pm last Thursday to Monkswood Way, between the junctions for London Road and Broadhall Way, where two cars had crashed before being sent in opposite directions into people lining either side of the road.
Video footage shows a car coming from the direction of London Road colliding with a car coming out of the Roaring Meg South car park - where a weekly meet of members of modified car club Cruise Herts was taking place.
In September last year the Comet reported how Peter Gates, who lives in St Margarets, was concerned some of the club's car enthusiasts were speeding.
He chillingly foretold that cars speeding were "likely to result in an accident, causing injury or even death" and said the event needed to be stopped.
At the time, the car club's members were meeting at Fairlands Valley Showground on Broadhall Way and neighbourhood inspector Simon Tabert admitted a low number drive at excessive speed, but said he was "happy to tolerate the meet where it is. If it were to go somewhere else it could be more dangerous".
Peter said: "Now there has been the inevitable accident I had always feared. It didn't take a lot of imagination to work out there could be a serious accident.
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"I complained to the council and the police last year, when they used to meet in the showground, because they were racing at 60 to 70 miles an hour down Broadhall Way.
"I went to a meeting at the council, with the police there too, and they all said there was nothing they could do about it. I tried to put a stop to it but they wouldn't listen.
"Now there are 18 people injured, some who may have life-changing injures. I think they might take some action now."
And Comet reader Karen Hammond added: "This was an accident waiting to happen. Cruise Herts' events are a public nuisance. I live close to the A602, just a short distance from the Roaring Meg, and am constantly disturbed by the noise of boy racers driving their very noisy cars at horrendous speeds late at night. It's a serious problem.
"The police are often parked along the A602 during the day, catching those people speeding 10mph over the limit, but they are not around at 10pm when the boy racers are there putting people's lives at risk, particularly following these club events.
"This event appears to be supported by the police and now we are facing the consequences. It's about time the police stopped these reckless drivers from blighting, and indeed risking, the lives of the locals."
Responding to the concerns raised by residents, Alicia Shaw, Stevenage's Chief Inspector, said: "In the past, we have engaged with members of the public and with our partners to address previous issues.
"We have previously addressed where offences have been committed, and they have been dealt with appropriately. We have put patrols in the area as well as specialist road policing officers.
"It's important to emphasise that [at the time] our resources were attending other incidents across Stevenage, several 999 calls, so officers were attending the public and dealing with other investigations."
Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: "Our thoughts are with those who were injured and their families following the meet on Monkswood Way.
"We have been raising concerns that both councillors and residents have had at our policing priorities group since early this summer. We had a very similar problem last year with 'boy racer' groups using Gunnelswood Road and this was tackled by a police operation.
"I have also worked since 2011 when there was a dreadful fatal accident on Monkswood Way to ask Hertfordshire County Council to introduce speed cameras, a lower speed limit and speed restrictions to this area because of noise and high speed complaints. We are working the police to consider how we stop these events happening again in Stevenage following the terrible Roaring Meg accident. We will apply for an interim injunction as quickly as possible then work with the police and other partners on a longer term solution."
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: "My thoughts are with all those injured in the tragic accident in Stevenage.
"The behaviour of some individuals attending these car meets has been a concern for some time. Hertfordshire police now have a big job to do to reassure our community."
On the night of the crash, Cruise-Herts posted on Facebook: "After what happened tonight we have decided we will have no more Cruise Herts meets. We pleaded with everyone not to race week in, week out, and also not to stand close to the road because of this happening."
Herts police has requested anyone who witnessed what happened, or who may have any footage of the incident, to email OPtepphra@herts.pnn.police.uk