Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry drone ban plan 'knee jerk' reaction

Kerry Blakeman Image copyright Kerry Blakeman
Image caption Former police chief inspector Kerry Blakeman says to wait for the government legislation to come in

A ban on drones in parks in Coventry will cause more problems for police than it will solve, a former West Midlands chief inspector says.

The council will decide on Thursday whether to stop drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) being flown on its land amid concerns over their use.

But Kerry Blakeman said it was a "knee jerk reaction" after recent illegal drone activity at Gatwick Airport.

Mr Blakeman, now a drone operator, wants the council to postpone the plan.

In a video from his drone, hovering at 150ft (45m) in War Memorial Park in Coventry on Wednesday, Mr Blakeman said: "If they ban drones where do people go to fly their drones?

"They will go into the street and this will have the unintended consequences for West Midlands Police."

'Saddening'

Last month, tens of thousands of passengers were disrupted by drones flying over Gatwick, one of the UK's busiest airports.

Under the council's plan, permission to fly the devices will only be given for some uses and subject to a £50 charge, the council says.

Mr Blakeman said he agreed with the council's plan that police can use drones on council land without gaining permission each time and that there will be a charge for commercial operations.

But he wants councillors to "put their foot on the brake" regarding an outright ban, until new government legislation that ensures all drones are registered is brought in in November.

Joe Rapson, a member of a recreational drone group in Birmingham, told BBC News he wanted the council to learn more about the community of people the ban would affect.

He said drone users were currently "getting a bad rap" and he and his friends had already started to face a "hostile reception" when they returned to parks and opens spaces.

"I find it saddening... certainly the drone flyers I know operate under the drone code and we welcome the public that want to talk to us."

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