A RIGHT of way will once again be open 24/7 after Cambridgeshire County Council was granted an injunction preventing Cow and Hare Passage in St Ives being closed to the public.

A RIGHT of way will once again be open 24/7 after Cambridgeshire County Council was granted an injunction preventing Cow and Hare Passage in St Ives being closed to the public.

The court order requires that a gate – which blocks pedestrian access through the passage between East Street and the town centre – must remain unlocked, despite residents' complaints that the street is plagued with anti-social behaviour.

CCC obtained the injunction at a hearing at Peterborough County Court last Thursday (March 17), and expects to serve it within two weeks, when it will decide on how to prevent the gate being locked.

However, Tony Webster, who lives in Main Street, Hartford, and has campaigned for nearly a decade for the passage to be secured at night to prevent alcohol-fuelled crime, said he did not expect the gate to be removed.

“The gate stays, and it will still be there next year,” said Mr Webster, 73.

He formerly owned property and had family living in the passage, but said that residents had to take action to protect themselves.

“I've seen people peeing up the walls – and some of them don't stop at peeing either. We couldn't stand it, and didn't see that we should have to.

“My son was beaten up in that passage and his wife was attacked.”

After complaints since 1999 about the levels of anti-social behaviour, residents began in 2002 to lock the gate leading on to The Broadway. Until 2006, the gate was locked on Friday and Saturday evenings between 10pm and 6am – years Mr Webster describes as “bliss” – but in April 2006 a planning inspector confirmed that the passage was a public right of way and instructed residents to leave it open.

Mr Webster said that, despite being told that the gate should be left unlocked, residents worried about their safety “had no alternative but to commit civil disobedience”.

A spokesman for the council said: “CCC has been granted an injunction to prevent the gates being locked at any time.

“We expect to be in a position to serve the injunction within two weeks and we will then decide what action will be taken to prevent the gates being locked – this could include the removal of the gates.”

Mr Webster said his motive had always been to maintain the safety and quality of life of residents in Cow and Hare Passage, and played down St Ives residents' complaints about the gate being locked.

“Those who complain are not those who are out at night. Ninety-nine per cent of people who wish to use the passage are able to do so, with our blessing.”

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said they would monitor the situation.