City people might think Mid Devon villages are tranquil places, but in many ways the one I used to live in was noisier than many parts of London.
Despite not being on a main road, it was rare for half an hour to pass in this village without the roar of a boy racer’s car.
At weekends said boy racers not only roared up and down the main street, but also worked on their cars, revving them up endlessly while playing music from sound systems so powerful they were more suited to the main stage at a festival.
One of my neighbours took up most of the parking places along the road with his collection of military vehicles, while his son and daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend, took up the rest with their modified cars.
Their exhausts could be heard from half a mile away, and windows rattled as they approached.
Anyone living in Tiverton, which surely must have one of the highest concentrations of boy racers in the country, will know what I’m talking about.
Walk around any day and it is guaranteed you will soon hear the roar of some attention-seeking idiot with a fat exhaust and thumping sound system.
Since moving to a house in the countryside, I have been so thankful to be rid of them.
Or rather, I used to be, as the other week I started hearing that familiar sound again, like a low-flying jet crossed with a defective lawnmower. Someone living nearby has pimped their ride.
It used to be only cars with faulty exhausts that sounded like that.
Now, for some unknown reason, it’s desirable to have a car which emits so much noise people turn around to look.
Frankly, if I was in charge I’d pass a law requiring anyone with a stupidly loud car to be forced to watch it being crushed, and pay for it, or else allow their neighbours to express what they think of the vehicle with the help of a sledgehammer or two.
Unfortunately, that’s not possible, so we have to rely on the existing law, which is a bit hazy about overly-noisy cars.
Internet forums used by the police and special constables, such as www.policespecials.com and www.ukpoliceonline.co.uk have questions posed by officers puzzled over whether they have powers to deal with boy racers.
Can they use Section 59 of the Police Reform Act, or do they just report the noisy car to the council’s environmental health department?
Responsibility for dealing with fat exhausts, noisy cars and loud sound systems seems split between the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, which oversees MOTs, the police, whose remit is dangerous driving and public order, and environmental health, which deals with noise nuisance.
None of them seem to me to be dealing with this problem.
Is this because they don’t think it is a problem, because hardly anyone complains about it, or because they don’t have the powers to do so?
I am sure that many people would very much like to know if the police and the council can answer that.