Alleyways to be blocked off to reduce trouble
CRIME blackspot alleyways could soon be blocked off in a bid to deter troublemakers.
Residents can now apply to have problem pathways near their homes in Cheltenham shut off.
It is hoped the new crime-fighting tactic will stop troublemakers blighting communities.
Many of the alleys, which give access to the back of houses, are used for anti-social behaviour and as a quick escape route. Cheltenham Borough Council agreed to adopt 'gating orders', the installation of metal fences to block alleyways, at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
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They will only be a 'last resort' where other measures, like increased lighting and bollards, have failed.
Police will also have to agree that crime has been "expressly facilitated" by the alleyway.
Councillor Peter Jeffries (Springbank, LD), cabinet member for housing and safety, said: "The use of gating orders will help in areas where people have reported anti-social behaviour.
"It is hoped they will lead to a reduction in crime, improving the overall environment for residents and helping communities to feel safe."
Barney Westbrook, 36, of Honeybourne Drive, has been trying, along with his neighbours, to deter criminals who frequently target homes along an alleyway by erecting their own barbed wire fences.
He believes gating orders could be the answer.
He said: "The path has just been a highway for people to try and gain access to our houses. We certainly welcome these plans.
"Having a gating order here could solve the problem. I definitely think we will apply for this.
"I do think this could solve the problem. It won't completely prevent them if they are determined to get in, but it would be a very welcome deterrent."
The council has received numerous requests to help tackle problem alleyways across Cheltenham in the last two years and some of these areas could now benefit from a gating order.
Gates at both ends of an alleyway will cost around £3,000 to buy and install.
They would be paid for from within the council's existing budget or from external sources.
Gloucestershire police Crime Reduction Officer Paul Francis said: "These gating orders have been very successful in many other areas in the country in reducing incidents of crime and disorder and I hope we will see similar results here."