Ipswich: Talks offer enthusiasts hope that ban on Drift-Swich car event will be lifted

Some of the action at one of Ray Connors' recent Drift-Swich events. Photo by Kev Bennett. Some of the action at one of Ray Connors' recent Drift-Swich events. Photo by Kev Bennett.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
10:00 AM

Organisers of a banned motoring event are hopeful it will be given the green light again after a council boss agreed to discuss their concerns.

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Motorsport enthusiast Ray Connors will be meeting with Stephen Baker, Suffolk Coastal District Council’s (SCDC) chief executive, to discuss the controversial events with the hope of reaching a “positive outcome” for Suffolk’s modified car community.

Mr Connors’ monthly Drift-Swich meetings at the Orwell Crossing Lorry Park were issued with a stop notice by SCDC on Friday, January 17, following noise complaints from neighbouring residents.

He fears that by banning events, which he claims are safe and well managed, the authorities will drive the enthusiasts back to the streets.

“We do not condone any form of ‘makeshift meetings’ in areas that are designed for the use of public roadways,” he said. “However, if the car enthusiasts of Suffolk keep 
feeling that no one is taking them seriously and continue to be treated with unjustified contempt, then they may feel they have no choice. That would be a massive step in the wrong direction.”

Despite the ban, a number of high profile supporters have come forward to defend Mr Connors’ event. Steve Jay, a church minister for Heart for Ipswich, said the events were “positive, constructive” ways to engage younger people, which he described as “fun family days out”.

Tony Burchnall, of the Eastern Counties Motor Club, has also shown support for the events, which he is keen to distinguish from the “nuisance informal gatherings” around the streets of Ipswich. “The two are poles apart,” he said.

“Perhaps an opportunity has now arisen for parties to start a dialogue to encourage understanding and reduce prejudice,” he suggested.

A spokesman for SCDC has confirmed Mr Connors’ meeting request, though no time or date has been set.

“Hopefully these details can be worked out,” the spokesman said.

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