London, 6 Jun 2000.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Press Release

Police Over-Reaction Causes Cheltenham Chaos
As Britainís police force are again pilloried for targeting a thirsty driver taking a sip of water at a traffic light, the ABD reveals a much larger scale misuse of police resources.
A 'car cruise' planned for Cheltenham on Sunday 28 May led local police into wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money, says the Association of British Drivers (ABD).

With an estimated 2,000 car enthusiasts arriving from as far afield as Manchester and London, Gloucestershire police set out to tackle their anticipated major crimewave with the following operations:

Car cruises, wrongly described as illegal rallies or road races, are events where car enthusiasts park up to admire and discuss the various expensive modifications they have carried out on their cars.

In the eyes of anti-car local and national politicians, this is a crime in itself, and must be tackled with more vigour than violence, burglary or vandalism, for which Gloucestershire Police Force revealed worsening statistics last year.

However, the war against the motorist is alive and well in Cheltenham.

ABD Spokesman Nigel Humphries comments:

"Cheltenham has a park and ride scheme which the Council is keen to promote. Here was a great opportunity for them to receive significant revenue from car parking fees, while drivers participated in a park and talk evening! However, the forward-looking top brass in Gloucestershire Police decided instead to waste hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on a massive over-reaction which caused thousands of cars to navigate the ring road all night, a ring road which has been described in the national press as the worst in Britain.

I understand that this massive Police effort resulted in one offence being detected amongst the cruisers. This is far less than the number of violent or property crimes on the streets of any town on any night. The whole affair is a disgrace."

Car cruises remain popular pursuits with the young car owning community, and individuals spend vast sums of money to take their cars to a cruise - and this is merely on insurance, road tax and fuel duty before the cost of any car customising is added in. Many of the vehicles involved are amongst the best maintained in this country.

Local resident Richard Warburton of Springbank, Cheltenham, who describes himself as a run-of-the-mill family man, has made his views on this fiasco public:

"The sheer number of police present was overkill to say the least...I am not anti-police but believe that sometimes they do not do themselves any favours."
ABD Environment Spokesman Bernard Abrams believes that this episode illustrates a more fundamental injustice:
"Not long ago, so-called environmentalists descended on London and caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage to property and cars, terrorising the public in the process. The organisers of this unrest promoted their event on the internet, including the website of 'Reclaim The Streets', an anti-car group. What happened? A riot. The Cheltenham Cruise organisers promoted their event on the internet, and got the third degree from the police. It would appear that if you are an anti-car thug you can go where you please and do virtually as you like, but tax-paying respectable car owners - who fund £1 in every £7 of government spending - are seen as wicked beyond comprehension and must have every move closely shadowed by the police."
The ABD calls on the police forces of this country to stop waging war on car enthusiasts and motorists in general, and instead turn their efforts towards tackling crimes that have a real impact on peopleís lives such as assault and burglary, plus the soaring scale of car crime which occurs once every two seconds on the streets of Britain.


Notes for Editors