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Boy racers strike fear at gym

PUBLISHED: 22:36 21 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 March 2010

STAFF at an Ipswich gym fear someone could be killed by boy racers using their car park as a race track.

Fitness First Health Club, in Russell Road, is plagued by speed-demons racing around its car park every night.

By JON TUNNEY

jon.tunney@eveningstar.co.uk

STAFF at an Ipswich gym fear someone could be killed by boy-racers using their car park as a race track.

Fitness First Health Club, in Russell Road, is plagued by speed-demons racing around its car park every night.

Mobs of youths – sometimes well over a hundred strong – gather in the car park from about 8pm, intimidating gymnasium staff and customers.

One staff member, who did not want to be named, said: "Our cleaners have to lock up at about 10.30 and it's frightening for them to go out there. Most of them are women, which makes it even worse.

"The car park is being used as a race track and someone is going to get killed.

"But what can we do? We can't take the law into our own hands."

The Evening Star last year showed shocking pictures of boy-racers speeding around the roundabout in front of the Fitness First and Staples complex.

But now it appears their racing is restricted to the car park.

Staff at the gym revealed a catalogue of incidents which they believe were caused by the gangs, but which need proof for police prosecution.

One worker said: "Every morning we come in and there's litter and skid marks all over the car park.

"We've had staff cars scratched and damaged and at least three cars dumped in the car park.

"I know Staples suffer with the litter, but they close earlier than us so the problems aren't as bad for them.

"We're trying to provide a good level of service to our members, but this just isn't good enough.

"We don't want to have to pay a security guard to go and patrol the car park and we may be forced to install CCTV."

The staff member said he had rung the police repeatedly, but was told there was nothing they could do.

Staples manager, Paul Carr, accepted the problem was not as bad for his staff and customers. But he would still like to see the back of the boy-racers.

He said: "We usually lock up at about 8.30pm. But when there's only three of you and there's ten to 15 cars with three people in each, it doesn't make you feel safe.

"To be honest, I don't mind them being there, it's when they start racing round and dropping litter that it becomes a problem.

"It's not nice when you arrive in the morning and there's mounds of McDonalds wrappers outside your store. And it doesn't give a very good image to our customers."

Mr Carr said Staples was considering ways of tackling the problem.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich police confirmed officers were aware of the problem.

But she said the youths were often very streetwise in avoiding the attentions of passing police.

She said: "It's an area that we patrol throughout the night. Because it's private property, we have no powers to move them.

"We have got them off the streets, so in that way, we were successful.

"If we had evidence to show they were doing handbrake turns or spinning around, it would be an offence, but they are very streetwise."

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