Boy racers who have “taken over” a town centre car park are causing havoc with reports of nightly speed trials, crashed cars and threats to anyone who complains.
Young men in Fort William meet most evenings to race around the town to a finish line in the West End car park.
One serious accident earlier this year saw a car written off, while a local hotel owner says he was threatened with his life for complaining about the noise.
Reports of exhausts that sound like shot guns, very loud music, over-revving engines, blasting horns and “doing doughnuts” while racing round the town, and up and down the car park. Police have confirmed that they have already impounded one car – but locals say not enough is being done.
This week, Press and Journal investigations revealed up to 10 cars gather in the car park shortly before 7pm each evening, going on to race round town and up and down the car park for almost four hours. Every time police officer made a circuit of the town, the young men dispersed, only to gather again shortly after they had gone.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
One resident described the situation as a “nightmare that lasts until the early hours of the morning”.
Marjory Philip, whose partner’s house overlooks the car park, said: “We have been trying to sell the house. We have the most beautiful views over Loch Linnhe. And yet, all people talk about when they come round to see the house is the bad boys in cars. Do I see them? How noisy are they?
“Well, the truth is, they are a nightmare that last until the early hours of the morning. Have they no jobs to go to in the morning?
“This is anti-social behaviour of the highest order. After making hundreds of complaints to everyone we could, my partner and I have given up phoning the police about it.”
George Manley, who lodges in a bed and breakfast overlooking the car park, said: “You take your life in your hands if you go into that car park at night.
“These kids have made it a no-go area. The banging of the music, the speeding up and down the car park and the screaming and shouting – it is all very frightening. The lunatic drivers have taken over that car park.”
David Wilson, who owns the Lime Tree Hotel, has been threatened by users of the car park. He said: “These cars have had their exhausts modified so they sound like shotguns.
“We have offered to manage a barrier for the council so it stops, but we have been told no. Our rates are going up again – and no one is dealing with this problem. It is a disgrace.
Another hotelier who did not want to be named said: “Our guests are frightened to park in the car park and come to the hotel. It is having a bad effect on our TripAdvisor reviews.”
Ward councillor Andrew Baxter said he was aware of the problem: “This is an anti-social behaviour problem and a police matter.
“The situation has been going on for a long time and we want to find a solution.”
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We are aware of reports of anti-social behaviour involving vehicles in the West End Car Park in Fort William.
“Where drivers are found to be using their vehicles anti-socially they will be dealt with appropriately.
“We would also urge drivers using the car park to show respect for other road users, as well as taking care not to cause disruption for residents and businesses in the area.”
Life of a Boy Racer
One of the boy racers said: “There is nothing exciting to do in Fort William, and at least we are not doing drugs or drink driving.”
While he would not give his name, or which car he was driving, he told The Press and Journal: “We are not sitting in the house playing Fortnite, we are out and about and having fun. Part of the thrill of being a cruiser is to play hide and seek with the police.
“A guy smashed his car up in the car park and he hasn’t even been done for it, as far as we know.
“We have no plans to stop anytime soon. We don’t think we are doing anything wrong. There is no speed limit in the car park. If we were doing something wrong the police should have arrested us by now.
“It is ridiculous that the police have taken away a car – it is completely heavy-handed.
“We love cruising in our cars.”
When asked if he was bothered about the anti social nature of what he is doing, he said: “No, it is a very social thing to do. I meet my pals most nights.”