SOUTHAMPTON residents have voiced their concerns at car-meets causing ongoing problems in and around the city.

Hundreds of petrol heads have flocked to car parks and industrial estates over recent months to show off their motors.

Residents have complained of noisy engines, dangerous driving and anti-social behaviour.

During an incident on Saturday night, police were called to Sainsbury's in Lordshill District Centre involving around "200 cars".

Despite, officers breaking up the gathering, motorists simply moved on to the M&S carpark off of Tolbar Way in Hedge End.

Nicola Crawford, who lives close to Sainbury's in Lordshill, explained: "I don't have anything against them if they are respectful and tidy up after themselves.

"I didn't like how they used the car park under subway at Sainsbury's as a race track, skidding about.

"I often hear cars screaming around the roundabouts and lay at night listening and worrying that either someone's going to get hurt or end up in my garden as I'm right on one of the roundabouts.

"If organised well and people attending meets are respectful then that's fine as think it's good they have something to look forward to, that they are passionate about."

She added: "Must admit though, when I went to Sainsbury's and I experienced the first meet it was pretty daunting as I wasn't sure what was going on.

"I was worried about getting out of my car as so many young people in large groups.

"But having said that I did continue with my shop and there was no trouble at all in time I was there. Sure the older generation may find it a bit daunting if they were having to shop during a meet."

Residents fed up of loud noise late at night with one local councillor calling on the use of dispersal orders to prevent them.

But car enthusiasts say that the events are "never going to stop" as they are a place to showcase their passion.

Local resident Jeremy John explained that his thoughts were divided when it comes to the meets.

He said: "If there is evidence to show criminal behaviour including excessive noise pollution during these events then yes they should be stopped.

"However if this is not the case and it is simply to disperse a crowd of like-minded people just in case then I don’t support [stopping the meets]

"Having said that, I don’t know if it’s linked, but the regular noise of cars and motorbikes using the Sainsburys’ roundabouts to drift round and race round is very frustrating late at night and I’m surprised there hasn’t been more accidents."

Coxford Councillor Matt Renyard said the meets hosted at Sainsbury's are a "worrying trend in what is a family residential area".

He added: "It is not clear whether the individuals involved are local or whether they are coming from outside the city.

"As both the ward councillor and the shadow spokesperson for Communities and Safety I would like to thank local police for the quick response and action taken this [Saturday] evening - it was both rapid and proportionate to the situation and I fully support the use of a dispersal order in this instance."

But enthusiasts have hit back at residents and the police over the static events, which means cars are all parked in one area.

One man, a 26-year-old from Southampton who has asked to remain anonymous, told our reporter: "I think it is easy for people to have a relatively negative opinion on a group of what they believe to be young men, or should I say young people, all meeting up on a Saturday night.

"But what people don't see is that these events are attended by all sorts of ages and walks of life.

"It's a great atmosphere and a chance for everyone to meet up and share their passion.

"It's a chance to show-off your car that many of us have spent a lot of time and money on, and also gives us the chance to check out other people's work.

"There's a lot of hard work and a lot of skill that goes into building some of these cars and I think people don't really understand that.

"People bring there kids to meets and it's great watching them run around excitedly with a camera, it's fuelling a passion they will carry with them until they're 80.

"Of course, there will also be a small minority that will ruin it and unfortunately everyone gets tarred with the same brush.

"Car meets have been going on since the 90s, you see old footage of them all the time. It's never going to stop because the passion is just passed down, so maybe police should work with organisers to create a safe environment for everyone."

Oliver Young, a car enthusiast from Bassett, said that, although he has not attended the meets at the supermarket, he thinks that organisers of the meets and police should work together.

"A love of cars is a passion people naturally want to share, and I think people should be free to meet up and do so," he said.

"That said, safety and respectfulness is important too - it only takes a few wrong moves from a few people to get in the way of that.

"Enthusiasts and authorities should speak to one another, what’s more irresponsible individuals should be weeded out. I myself have always stuck to private meets, though I’m not opposed to public meets."

Another supporter of the meets, a woman from Southampton and car enthusiast, said: "There is a lot of misjudgment when it comes to car meets within the public. The car community is huge and attracts a wide range of people not just the ‘young men’ - from younger kids to adults, and we all want to share the passion for cars, we have no intention to disturb the public and have no joy in doing so.

"The car community have no set place to meet and are usually pushed away and banned from certain locations.

"These locations were typically industrial estates, so empty and set back from housing estates so the public wouldn’t be as disturbed.

"Car meets don’t happen every night, and when they do happen it is a lovely occasion to get together and catch up and look at cars, and it’s hard to hear so much backlash from the public when the car community tries to keep things level.

"Overall, I think people need to be more open minded about people’s passion for cars, especially seeing that people are only complaining about the noise."