Car meets are far from a dangerous nuisance to residents and businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire - and provide a safe place for young people to indulge in a shared passion.

That is the view of one of the organisers of some of the county's biggest unofficial events, who has spoken exclusively to this newspaper to give his side of the story.

The meets, which can see hundreds of car owners gathering to show off their vehicles, have attracted fierce criticism. Wiltshire Police have also publicised their efforts to keep the events in check. 

But until now there has been little heard from the organisers.

The person we spoke to asked to remain unnamed, but has organised ‘loads’ of car meets in and around Swindon through his social media pages under the name Wiltshire Car Scene.

“We are just a bunch of people that love cars, just want to get together, there’s nothing more to it," he said.

“Everyone thinks we're in the car scene, and all we want to do is mess with the police, vandalise them, damage cars and it is none of that. 

“We just want to see some of the cars, have a laugh and get together, nothing more.”

The police launched Operation Staysail in 2022 to target car meets.

The police operation has led the organiser to step back from organising events, but others were quick to take his place.

Wiltshire Times: Scenes from car meets, provided by organisers

He says that car meets give a safer alternative to the knife and gang crime that some children get drawn into.

He said: “I'd say to all parents, would you rather your kids be hanging around in the car scene or them be in gangs with the bad guys going around with machetes and drugs?

“It's either that or this and I think at the end of the day the car scene is a lot safer.”

This comes after police and residents’ safety concerns about cars driving and drifting at high speeds near to attendees.

Wiltshire Times: Scenes from car meets, provided by organisers

In September, 2023, a car doing doughnuts crashed into spectators and four people were injured.

The organiser responded: “Everyone is their own person. When you go out and you're on your own, you’re in control of your own life.

“People are already aware before they go of what it is like.”

He claims that he keeps people in control at car meets, trying to make sure that everyone, like him, stays well back from the cars.

Not only do attendees need personal responsibility, so do drivers to keep their cars road legal.

He said: “At the end of the day everyone knows if they're going out on the road in their car it has to be roadworthy”.

People spend so much money on their cars that he says it is in most people’s interests to do everything to stop them being taken away.

One of the most common complaints is that they are a public nuisance, with loud engines, music and drifting.

Wiltshire Times: Scenes from car meets, provided by organisers

The organiser maintained: “Every place we do a meet, we go as far out the way from residential areas every time. We know someone will call the police and we don’t want that.”

He feels forced to operate in the way they do by lack of viable alternatives.

To put on an official car meet is expensive, and many potential venues for meets and existing events would not let them drift and test the ability of their machines.

Expense and lack of like-for-like official events will, he says, inevitably lead to the unofficial meets continuing. 

He says: “The street meets will continue until someone changes that trend.”

Wiltshire Police was contacted for comment.

Chief Superintendent Phil Staynings previously said: “We will endeavour to ensure the public suffer the minimum amount of disruption from car meets and we will continue to robustly deal with any offences committed.”