Authorities urged to act against 'terrifying' Isle of Dogs car races

Westferry Circus which houses the East London Family Court.

Residents have called for action against groups gathering for car races on the Isle of Dogs, including Westferry Circus - Credit: Ken Mears

Residents on the Isle of Dogs have urged the Met Police to clamp down on "terrifying" tunnel races they claim are endangering neighbours and hindering emergency services.

The noise from cars taking part was so loud one resident reported being unable to hear the television in their 10th floor flat, even with the window shut.

Residents claim modified cars often gather in tunnels and streets on the Isle of Dogs, including Westferry Circus.

They have called on the Met Police and Tower Hamlets Council to take firmer action to prevent the events, saying they cause antisocial behaviour and a danger to residents.

Tower Hamlets resident Samia Hersi said that the ‘tunnel runs’ have been going on for years, but that nothing was being done to stop them.

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She said: “I’m 25 now, I remember seeing these runs when I was 12 years old when my family tried to drive through it.

“There’s very little notice so people in the area find out about it when it actually happens. 

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“There’s speeding and there’s all these cars blocking up the road so it’s literally impossible for you to get out, it causes such a big traffic jam and blockages in the area.”

Samia, who will be standing as a councillor for the Conservative Party in the Canary Wharf ward in next year’s local elections, felt that the runs were a danger to emergency services.

She said: “The road infrastructure around here is not the greatest and this doesn’t help.  Just further down the road on Westferry Road there’s a fire station and they need to go through Westferry Circus in order to respond to emergencies.

“You’re terrified that you might get in an accident… the amount of noise that just vibrates and vibrates throughout the whole area, it’s terrifying.”

Another resident, who lives next to where the events are said to be held, claimed that the noise from the cars was deafening.

The resident, who did not want to be named, said: “I live on the 10th floor, and with the window closed I can not hear the telly."

They alleged that participants in the runs have been "aggressive" and on one occasion threatened nearby residents.

“We need support from the police and we need support from the council which we do not have, and because of a bunch of idiots the council and the police need to waste resources they do not have.”

Canary Wharf councillor Andrew Wood also condemned the behaviour and called for tougher action from the authorities.

He recalled: “It’s a major concern. At a previous event an ambulance tried to get through and couldn’t and had to turn around and go back in the other direction.

“The only time they [the police] were proactive was when we told them in advance it was happening… they arrived at five o’clock and just shut the tunnel down so nobody except for emergency vehicles were allowed in.

“There’s been other times when the police are just really busy elsewhere and they just don’t have the resources – it’s really pot luck as to the kind of responses that we get.”

A spokesperson for the Met Police said: “We are aware that events of this nature can cause significant disruption and distress to the local community due to excessive vehicle noise, anti-social behaviour and inconsiderate driving.

“When we are aware of these events taking place in advance we will work closely with our colleagues at traffic and our partners at the council to take measures to prevent them taking place.

“Any offences will be dealt with robustly and proportionately to prevent disruption to the community and road users.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service contacted Tower Hamlets Council for comment.

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