26 October 2009
Since the introduction of a road closure along Blackwood High Street on Thursday nights, police are reporting that there is a significant reduction in the number of car cruisers visiting the area.
Car cruisers have been visiting Blackwood for 25 years, causing traffic chaos and congestion for local residents, as well as incidents of speeding and anti-social behaviour. In an attempt to get local residents back out in their community and dissuade cruisers from visiting the area, the main road through Blackwood town centre is now closed on Thursday nights as part of an experimental order.
Caerphilly County Borough Council and Gwent Police introduced an experimental evening road closure on Thursday 17th September for a period of 18 months. A review will be carried out after six months and should the experiment prove to be successful, then the council will consider making the order permanent.
The order is in effect between 7pm and 4am, and prohibits the driving of vehicles along a section of the High Street. The High Street is being closed at four closure points by police officers. Whilst it is only being enforced on Thursday nights initially, the closure can be implemented on any night of the week.
There are however exceptions – taxis and buses are still given access to the High Street, along with disabled badge holders who need to park to visit local facilities. Motorists still also have access to the main car parks in Blackwood town centre, including the car park accessed from Bridge Street.
Since the road closure, police have not received any complaints from residents regarding the presence of car cruisers or anti-social driving on Thursdays. Previously local officers would often get called to deal with these incidents on Thursday nights.
Inspector Kevin Childs, said: "The road closure does indeed appear to be having a positive effect in deterring hundreds of car cruisers from visiting the area. We have not seen an increase in the number of cars visiting the area on other nights, and we haven't received reports that they are starting to gather elsewhere in the locality.
"I would like to remind residents that the town centre is still very much open for business, with access still being maintained to the main car parks, a short walk from the High Street. Residents who have been using the town on foot have reported that they now feel safer.
"Despite the recent reductions in the numbers gathering, it's important that the road closure stays in place for the duration of the experimental order to ensure that the large numbers of car cruisers do not return. We will be evaluating the closure with the council after six months and putting in place sustainable plans, should the Thursday evening road closure become permanent."
Cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Lyn Ackerman said, "Since the introduction of the road closure order, we have noticed a significant reduction in the number of 'car cruisers' visiting the town centre, which of course is good news for the residents of Blackwood who have suffered problems for so long.
I would like to thank residents, businesses and car enthusiasts themselves for their support of this road closure order, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure that Blackwood residents can go safely about their business without the anti-social nuisance that was often brought about by the large numbers of car cruisers."
The first night of the road closure, was marked by a last cruise down Blackwood High Street. The Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership also held a 'Big Screens and Mean Machines' event as an opportunity to talk to the car cruisers about the road closure as well as issues with noise nuisance, illegal modifications, speeding and safe driving.
It also marked one of the first outdoor showings of COW – a road safety film highlighting the dangers of driving whilst using a mobile phone.
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