Harlow Council has received a number of concerns and questions raised in response to the injunction granted by Chelmsford County Court on 19 May 2016.
The purpose of the injunction is not and has never been about stopping those responsible riders or drivers from enjoying using their vehicles in a lawful manner.
Harlow Council is very sorry that this issue has upset and angered the wider biking community. This was never our intention and we hope the below helps explain the reasons for applying for the injunction and who it is ultimately targeted at.
Harlow Council and Essex Police wants to make it clear that anyone riding bikes lawfully in Harlow on the road to either meet up with friends, including driving in a convoy; drive through the town; learn to ride or teach others, or take part in a charity event, will not be served with the injunction. This is the same for anyone driving a motor vehicle.
If an event is to be organised for charity or any other occasion, which would mean a significant number of people attending, then the Council via firstname.lastname@example.org and Police should be informed so arrangements can be made to support the event.
The main aim of the injunction was to stop an unauthorised ride out event taking place on Saturday 21 May 2016, which would have attracted hundreds of young people on motorbikes and bystanders. Following a previous event held, both the Council and the Police had serious concerns about the danger this event would pose to the public, to those taking part and the wider impact on the community. Despite the Council and Police's attempts to work with and talk to the organisers there was no response. As a result of the injunction this event did not go ahead.
The injunction also aims to target a growing problem of groups of people creating a nuisance by riding bikes illegally on the streets, public highways and on green spaces in Harlow. It is these unauthorised ride outs, and these only, which are the target of this injunction. Not only do these unauthorised ride outs cause nuisance to communities, it also puts the safety of the wider public and the riders at serious risk. Concerns are being raised by Harlow residents about persistent unauthorised gatherings causing a nuisance and antisocial behaviour, and the Council, supported by the Police, had to listen and act.
The injunction will therefore only be served and enforced on people who are gathering and causing a nuisance and carrying out antisocial behaviour.
The injunction does not distract from the Police's existing powers. It is simply one of a number of measures in place to deal with this specific problem being experienced in Harlow.
This year the Essex Police have received 121 calls about motorbikes, quad bikes, pit bikes and mopeds being ridden illegally or in an antisocial manner in Harlow between March and May. This compares to 74 during the same time last year.
The Council and the Police are working together to target the issue and have written to all parents/guardians of year 11 pupils and above in the town and attended school assemblies. The Police are also patrolling hotspot areas in the town, seizing bikes being ridden illegally and issuing warning notices under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002. We are also working with petrol stations to crack down on petrol being sold to under-16s and are distributing leaflets to young people.
Statement from Inspector, Paul Maleary of Essex Police:
“Essex Police fully supports the injunction held by Harlow Council. This clarification statement makes it clear that neither Essex Police nor Harlow Council intend to target those persons engaged in lawful activity. Our response to any activity will continue to be proportionate and ensure that quality of life for Harlow residents is maintained.”