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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Middle East supercar owners hit the skids as London authorities clamp down on driver behaviour

Inspectors ordered to hit revving petrolheads with fines

Three gold cars from Saudi Arabia (left-right) a 6x6 Mercedes G 63, Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Lamborghini Aventador have received parking tickets on Cadogan Place in Knightsbridge, London.PA Photos
Three gold cars from Saudi Arabia (left-right) a 6x6 Mercedes G 63, Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Lamborghini Aventador have received parking tickets on Cadogan Place in Knightsbridge, London.PA Photos

After years of raising hell in London's wealthiest borough, the pre-dominantly Middle-Eastern drivers of top supercars might have to take their motoring enthusiasm elsewhere as Kensington and Chelsea Council use their powers to target a unique type of antisocial behaviour.

After councils across the country were granted the right use a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to issue fines in a bid to curb a range of driving behaviours, the area’s bureaucrats have launched a crackdown.

Visitors from nations such as the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ship in their expensive cars along with them, which can often be seen on the roads around Knightsbridge, the district at the heart of the ultra-wealthy west end of London.

Kensington and Chelsea Council has ordered its officials to use PSPOs to fine motorists for revving engines, repeated sudden acceleration or racing, all behaviours associated with supercars, in response to complaints by residents. Last year inspectors issued 53 penalties between £100 and £1,000.

Drivers of a Lamborghini, a black Ferrari F430 Spider F1 and a white Maserati were fined.

While in June last year a motorist driving a white Mercedes C63 had to pay £100 for "playing loud bhangra music"

A Mercedes AMG G63 from Saudi Arabia seen in Mayfair. PA Images
A Mercedes AMG G63 from Saudi Arabia seen in Mayfair. PA Images

The issue has long been a source of debate across the spectrum and the latest statistics about councils using their powers has alarmed some politicians. The practice has its defenders from foes of excessive meddling by the state.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tim Clement-Jones said the increased use of PSPOs showed that councils were restricting freedom of expression "in an unprecedented way".

However, even renowned “petrolhead” Jeremy Clarkson seemed to call for an end to the noisy supercar season while hailing the virtues of a quiet Audi in a recent newspaper column.

The ex-Top Gear host complained that his evening supping at a pub in Chelsea had been interrupted by the revving of engines outside.

“I was in Knightsbridge the other night, having dinner on the pavement,” he wrote. “Every third word I tried to say was drowned out by the bangs from wealthy young gentlemen’s anti-lag systems echoing off the walls like a firefight for the centre of Homs.

"They went round and round the area in their hotted-up supercars until even I was p****** off. So you can imagine how my fellow diners felt. Which is why they will vote for anyone who makes petrol illegal.”

Khalil Ahmed, a Bahrain-based pilot, entrepreneur and owner of three luxury cars who frequently visits Britain over the summer months, explained that such vehicles are designed in such a way that make them very noisy.

Mr Ahmed told The National: "For myself, I know how noisy my car is so I would never switch on late at night when I know people are sleeping, I wait to use it in the middle of the day because most people are at work.

"Some cars are very loud because they have been modified to be louder while some motorists intentionally rev their cars up.

"These people are [typically] young men in their thirties or even younger. They are trying to show off."

Recently, an unnamed billionaire from the Gulf spent a record £21 million on an underground car park close to the upmarket Harrods store in Knightsbridge, London, with enough room to stack some 80 supercars.

Complete with extra wide bays to allow for a low-slung Ferrari to fit with comfort, and a lounge for a team of valets to rest after keeping the cars clean of London grime, ensured that the complex was the most costly parking-related purchase ever in the UK.

Despite the cost, the value of the vehicles far exceeded the cost of the parking facility, according to a report in London’s Evening Standard.

The new tough on noise regime is said to particularly worry wealthy visitors from the Gulf states, who come over every summer during what has become known as "supercar season" to escape the soaring temperatures in the Middle East.

Why not shift to other parts of the capital or indeed elsewhere in the country? Again statistics show councils around Britain are using the orders to issue fines in a bid to curb a range of driving behaviours.

The information released shows a four-fold increase in the number of penalties given out by councils from 470 in 2015 to 1,906 in 2016.