Late-night gate shuts for last time?

A gate installed by residents of a St Ives street to keep out late-night revellers and vandals should be gone by today (Wednesday). When a Government planning inspector ruled in April that Cow & Hare Passage was a designated right of way, lo

A gate installed by residents of a St Ives street to keep out late-night revellers and vandals should be gone by today (Wednesday).

When a Government planning inspector ruled in April that Cow & Hare Passage was a designated right of way, locking the gate became confirmed as unlawful.

But residents, who complain of drunken yobs urinating, vandalising property and using abusive and threatening behaviour, have continued to defy the highway authority by locking the gate - a move they said was needed to ensure their own safety.

Two weeks ago Cambridgeshire County Council gave residents an ultimatum - remove it yourselves within two weeks or we'll take it away.


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A county council spokesman said: "We warned residents that we would be removing the gate before the end of July. The inspector was quite clear about this being a right of way, and we had a duty to remove the gate.

"We understand residents' concerns and, once we have a policy on gating orders in place, they will be able to apply for one."

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Gating orders became available to highway authorities under the Environment & Clean Neighbourhoods Act 2005, which came into force in April this year. If made, they can allow rights of way to be obstructed during specified hours.

Tony Webster, from Hartford, who owns several properties and some land in Cow & Hare Passage, admitted at the public inquiry that the gate had been locked early on some evenings and had been left closed late on some mornings. Pedestrians have complained of similar obstructions since the inspector announced her decision.

The council said that, if the residents put up another gate that obstructed the public's right of way, that too, would be removed. "But we would rather work with the residents than against them," the spokesman added.

Several St Ivians told the public inquiry that they had been using the passage as a thoroughfare all their lives. So any draft gating order would be likely to attract scores of objections, leading to another public inquiry.

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