Two garages are among the first premises in Preston to be slapped with a new type of anti-social behaviour order, after blighting neighbours for years.
Devonshire Garage and Lukas Auto Ltd, both next to one another in Devonshire Place, have been served with community protection warning letters under the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, setting out required behaviours. Any breach could lead to prosecutions and a fine of up to £20,000.
The move comes after neighbours complained for more than two years to Lancashire Police and Preston Council, and police said garage staff failed to act on verbal warnings.
The complaints include:
• Drinking and smoking in garages;
• Blocking the road with cars;
• Not keeping to set working hours;
• Sleeping in the premises outside of working hours; and
• Not storing used tyres securely.
Neighbouring resident Billy Worswick said he struggles to park outside his own home and is forced to push his disabled grandaughter’s wheelchair in the middle of the road.
He said: “I’m glad this order has been made and the authorities are getting tough, but the situation needs monitoring. The cars that have been parked up for two months are still there, in fact I’d say the situation is worse than ever.”
Inspector Paul McLernon of Preston Police said: “We’ve had lots of complaints about these sites and we’ve had to take a stepped approach to tackling the issues. We’ve had talks with the garage staff and now we’re formalising it.
“We will be gathering evidence from now on, but as long as they comply, then the matter won’t escalate.
“However, if the requirements aren’t adhered to, then we step the order up and it becomes enforceable.
“We hope this is treated seriously, and that the residents feel reassured that we are committed to solving these problems.”
A spokesman for Lukas Auto Ltd denied the allegations, saying that they were being unfairly targeted by neighbours and they would be appealing the matter in court.
Staff at Devonshire Garage declined to comment.
A Preston Council spokesman said: “Local residents have made numerous complaints over many years about behaviour at the garages and now, using new powers available, we are taking a tough line.
“The legislation allows wider anti-social behaviour issues to be dealt with more effectively.”