Gate plan thrown out in right of way dispute

THE row over a public right of way in St Ives may have finally ended after plans to have a gate across the passageway were thrown out by councillors. On Monday, a gating order for Cow and Hare Passage was rejected and any attempt to block access through t

THE row over a public right of way in St Ives may have finally ended after plans to have a gate across the passageway were thrown out by councillors.

On Monday, a gating order for Cow and Hare Passage was rejected and any attempt to block access through the passage remains illegal.

The decision over the gate, which would have allowed the route to be legally blocked at certain times to tackle anti-social behaviour, will please more than 200 people who opposed it.

Cambridgeshire County Council's Huntingdonshire area joint committee, which made the decision at a meeting in Sawtry, had also received a 55-name petition in favour of the gate.

However, under the council's gating order policy, there needs to be persistent, or serious, anti-social behaviour in an area before a gating order can be passed. A police report presented to councillors revealed that between 1999 and 2006, there were 14 recorded incidents of anti-social behaviour in Cow and Hare Passage.

Speaking at the meeting district and town councillor, Debbie Reynolds, said: "This does not seem like an area of particular concern. It does not seem like an appropriate area for a gating order."

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The town council had previously supported the gating order, but at the meeting the town mayor, Cllr Doug Dew, said their position had changed.

"We have been opposed to gating the passage but the police lead us to believe that the crime issues in the passage were of a significant nature but that is not what they are saying now. We now believe the police have misled ourselves and the councillors."

Inspector Angus McNeill, sector inspector for St Ives, told The Hunts Post he believed no one had been misled.

"There are many incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour reported in that area. The Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005 introduced gating orders and I see this as an excellent piece of legislation not only to reduce, but also to prevent, crime and anti-social behaviour and improve the quality of life for residents of Cow and Hare Passage."

Tony Webster, who led the campaign for the gate, said he had not given up the fight: "It is awful that the council did not support the gating order but it does not matter as we will continue to gate the passage. We do not need their approval and will continue to lock the gate overnight at weekends."

The county council could not say if it the gate would now be removed.

A spokesman said: "The committee has only just made their decision and we are now considering what action to take if the gate is locked.

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