THE long-running saga of the gate at Cow and Hare Passage in St Ives took another twist on Monday with its removal by Cambridgeshire County Council.

THE long-running saga of the gate at Cow and Hare Passage in St Ives took another twist on Monday with its removal by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The council cut the gate from its hinges, saying it was exercising its statutory powers to ensure the passage between East Street and the town centre remained a public right of way.

CCC was granted an injunction in March forbidding the closure of the gate, installed by residents in 2002 to reduce night-time anti-social behaviour, and said it would decide what action to take to enforce the injunction.

However, long-time campaigner Tony Webster refused to accept the council's rights, and said it was in contempt of court by removing it.

"Cambridgeshire County Council got an injunction saying that no-one could close the gate, not that they could remove it," he said.

Following the granting of the injunction last month, Mr Webster, 73, stated his intention to take a step back from the campaign - a resolution that lasted until 7.30pm on Monday evening.

He said: "We are going to seek a personal hearing with the judge who ruled on March 17. We will force them to put the old gate back up."

A spokesman for CCC said: "We have a statutory duty to prevent the passage's obstruction, and we have a right to take action to fulfil that duty.

"That includes the power to remove the gate."

He said the council had issued a notice to say the gate would be removed, but that the gate would be returned to its owners.

"Anyone wishing to claim the gate is more than welcome to do so," the spokesman added.

District councillor John Davies, who chairs the St Ives Area Neighbourhood Forum, welcomed the removal of the gate and said other measures could be used to reduce anti-social behaviour in the town.

A designated public places order (DPPO) covering St Ives town centre would give authorities greater powers to deal with alcohol-related disturbance, he said.

"It has been a very long saga of great frustration to those residents who use the passage as a thoroughfare, and it could have been resolved many years ago.

"I understand the residents of Cow and Hare Passage have dealt with anti-social behaviour, but once we have this DPPO up and running I think that will help to address any problems of that kind throughout the town."