Car enthusiasts defend meets along Southend seafront as boost for businesses

Family - Darren Pankhurst with his dad, also Darren Pankhurst <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Family - Darren Pankhurst with his dad, also Darren Pankhurst (Image: Newsquest)

CAR enthusiasts are pressing for Southend seafront “cruise” events to be made official because they support business by bringing visitors to the city.

Hundreds of proud drivers showed off their pride-and-joy motors at a car meet on the seafront on Bank Holiday Monday night – the fourth unofficial event in a matter of weeks.

Southend Council has criticised some of those in attendance, claiming dangerous manoeuvres were carried out and also alleged community safety officers were abused.

However car enthusiasts – including Darren Pankhurst – believe the events are positive for the seafront and are calling on the council to create a designated space or allocated day for the events to avoid issues.

Darren, 31, regularly attends events with his dad, also Darren Pankhurst, 58.

He said “I go to these meets regularly with my dad. My dad is 58, he hasn’t got many friends, same goes for me, and these car meets are a time where we get to go out and enjoy ourselves.

“It is a great way to make friends and is a good stress relief for mental health. It is a way of life for people like me and my dad, it is our passion.

“I personally did not see anyone performing dangerous manoeuvres. I think it is easy to point the finger at car communities as an easy target.

“The majority of car communities spend thousands on their pride and joys, and quite rightly, they want to show all their hard work off.”

The public space protection order is designed to ban specific elements of car meets which cause problems but not banning events altogether.

This includes things like excessive noise from a vehicle, driving at excessive speed, racing other motor vehicles, performing stunts, abusing or intimidating another person, as well as parking and exiting motor vehicles in a non-designated parking space.

Darren added: “These car events generate thousands for businesses too, and they thrive from it. Families attend, friends attend, people from all over the UK come to Southend city for them.

“I would agree there is no excuse for abusive behaviour or disrespect towards anyone, but the majority behave and don’t act silly.

“I think it is time Southend Council make them official or support them as these events will carry on happening regardless.”