The London district that houses Qatar-owned department store Harrods has announced plans to take action against the noise and inconvenience caused by supercars in the area.
Each summer, hundreds of tourists, mainly from the Gulf, travel to the UK, bringing with them their luxury vehicles.
Many of these visitors congregate around popular hotspots, such as Harrods, revving their engines, parking illegally and generally creating a nuisance in the area, according to UK residents.
To curb the problem, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, home to Harrods, has been discussing plans to impose fines on car owners who cause problems in their neighborhoods.
According to a statement on the district’s website, the borough plans to launch its crackdown by introducing a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), a new measure that targets public activities that have a detrimental effect on a community’s quality of life.
The PSPO would make it illegal to rev engines; drive in a convoy; perform stunts in a car; sound horns (that cause a public nuisance); play music loudly from a car; and to cause obstruction on a public road, such as parking illegally.
Speaking to the Telegraph this week, local council member Quentin Marshall explained why he was campaigning for the new law:
“The noise goes on all day but is worse in the evenings and at night. That’s when it’s most disturbing. It used to be limited to the summer but now it’s becoming pretty much all year round. We are just trying to stop these people who are abusing the rules and using their cars to make a very loud noise.”
Those found in breach of the PSPO would be liable for a fine of up to £100 ($155) or possible criminal prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 ($1,555.) Repeat offenders risk having their vehicles confiscated.
The PSPO would be focused on the area surrounding Harrods in Knightsbridge. A map of the boundary can be viewed here.
The Kensington and Chelsea borough council are inviting views from the general public on the plans until Sept. 20. They will then produce a final report in the fall, and if approved, the new regulations are likely to be in place by next summer.
Two years ago, a British TV documentary sparked debate after it highlighted complaints about rich, young Khaleeji men turning London’s streets into their own personal playground in their imported supercars.
The film, “Millionaire Boy Racers,” provoked discussion about multiculturalism and tolerance in the wealthy London area.
In a recent article on the subject, the Telegraph interviewed some local residents about the proposed new laws, and the effect the summer “supercar season” has had on their lives.
Financier Max Engelhard told the newspaper:
“I think that would be a great idea. Particularly around Harrods there are always Kuwaitis driving in their Lamborghinis. They use my square as a racing track.”
Angela Stone, a retired teacher, told the newspaper that she found the practice “completely unnecessary:”
“They just go round and round hoping to be looked at. They get out their diamond studded cars and pose in them. It’s like an expensive Spanish resort without the sun. It is irritating and completely unnecessary. I do understand how they upset residents.”
In addition to noise complaints, the borough also takes issue with the fact that so many parking fines imposed on foreign cars go unpaid.
From 2007 to 2010, foreign drivers failed to pay 36,332 parking tickets in the borough, leaving the council £3,776,490 out of pocket, according to the Telegraph.
London’s councils are often unable to chase debts from foreign owners because they have no way of finding out how to contact them once they have left the country.