Driving school

Vandals destroy a classroom at Thanet Driving School, South East Motorcycle Training

Vandals have virtually destroyed a classroom belonging to a motorcycling school in Thanet, with windows smashed, a new £400 door ripped out and contents of the interior scattered across its yard.

The classroom at South East Motorcycle Training in Kingsgate has been left completely unusable and it is not the first time the business has been the target of such an attack.

Paul Duval shared his frustration with vandalism

The business is owned by Paul Duval, 52, of Birchington-On-Sea, and his wife Kerry.

Paul discovered the destruction at his George Hill Road site on Sunday January 2, with all cabin windows smashed, leaving dangerous glass strewn across the floor.

The training school has been a victim of this kind of crime before – two years ago its bikes were stolen when a gang burned a welded container to reach the motorbikes.

Paul and Kerry have now had to pay to carry out temporary repairs because their classes are full this month, but say the classroom is “out of breath”.

The windows of the portable cabin were shattered by stones on the ground. Photo: Paul Duval

They rent a small piece of land on a local farm that has a tarmac area and the classroom and the couple train people to get their CBT (compulsory basic training) license.

Paul says the business has suffered badly at the hands of the “old thugs of Thanet”, but he says he has become discouraged by the attacks that occur so often.

He said: “The doors were all closed so we didn’t expect anything bad.

“We don’t put a lock on the door anymore because if they look inside they’ll see it’s just a small classroom and they’ll leave it alone, which they’ve been doing for about eight months. .

“I got on the track and obviously they found lots of rocks and they just smashed all the windows.

“They’ve basically beaten the portacabin to the point where it’s on its last legs now and it’s quite dangerous. It’s just destroyed now. It’s a bit of a mess.”

The classroom remained unusable.  Photo: Paul Duval
The classroom remained unusable. Photo: Paul Duval

Paul suspects the attack could have been a group of bored children or teenagers during school holidays, unlike more sophisticated crimes he has experienced in the past.

He continued: “The first two times they stole all the bikes from the containers, it was a pretty professional job by a team of criminals – they just wanted to get the bikes out of there.

“They did it the first time and it cost me thousands of dollars. The second time they burned it down.

“But the last two times I suspect it was just bored kids and they walked around the pitch. I can’t prove any of that because I haven’t seen them.

“I just think it was kids who got bored over the holiday period and they just took their boredom out on the portacabin.”

A new £400 door has been ripped off the hinges by vandals.  Photo: Paul Duval
A new £400 door has been ripped off the hinges by vandals. Photo: Paul Duval

After the bikes were stolen two years ago and the school closed by the pandemic for a while, this latest attack has left Paul under financial pressure to maintain the business he loves to run.

He added: “It’s a problem, you work hard because it’s not a huge business – I really, really like training people and putting them on the road.

“But obviously it’s happened so many times that it makes you feel a bit discouraged after a while.

“The last two times it happened, I was so depressed.”

Business is full for January with classes set to take place outside on the tarmac, hoping the weather will remain dry as the classroom has been temporarily repaired, but damage from this latest attack has left many internal water damage. .

After discovering the destruction, Paul shared a video on Facebook calling for help from the local community.

He hopes to find a converted 20ft shipping container so he can protect the classroom from future attacks and get rid of the current cabin.

Paul said: “It was amazing because the locals have been absolutely lovely.

“It gets you down, but there are good people too – a lovely lady has set up a JustGiving page.

“They’re trying to fundraise so we can get some sort of metal office container, which I think would be much better because it’s so vulnerable in that area.”

To donate to the JustGiving page, click here