VIDEO: Graffiti, mess, drugs and alcohol - is this the image you want for Wisbech? asks police chief as he explains ‘gating order’
11:58 06 March 2014
Gates could be put up at each end of a Wisbech alley to reduce the risks of crime and anti social behaviour.
The ‘gating order’ for New Bell Lane has been proposed following concerns expressed by police, residents and businesses.
A public notice issued by the county council says keeping the street open “is facilitating the persistent commission of criminal offences and anti social behaviour”.
Inspector Robin Sissons of Cambs Police has made a short video explaining the background to the problems of New Bell Lane which has been posted to the county council ‘Shape Your Place’ website.
If approved (the public has until March 19 to make their views known) an alternative route for pedestrians will be via Union Street, Hill Street and Nene Quay or via Union Street, Old Bell Lane and Nene Quay.
Under the terms of the ‘gating order’ keys will be made available to certain people and organization but responsibility for its maintenance and operation will rest primarily with Wisbech police.
The order would “restrict the public right of way at all times over the entire highway that runs from its junction with Union Lane between 11 and 12 Union Street in a north westerly direction for a distance of 35 metres”.
Insp Sissons said there was of course an argument that once gated off those who drank in the streets or caused a nuisance would only go elsewhere.
“Yes they will but it is likely to be an area where the police, members of the public or even better, CCTV is likely to catch them,” he said.
“This means that when they are dropping their trousers and having a poo, we will be able to identify them and prosecute. I for one do not want this mess on our streets but we cannot be everywhere; down every alleyway and so we need to draw them out.”
He said he used to live in London where there were hundreds of alleyways. “Then came a piece of legislation where it allowed councils to ‘design out’ crime – the idea is that streets should be well lit, wide, clear of obstacles and without dark alleyways,” he said.
“This makes it hard for criminals to hide and do their illegal business. When criminals don’t feel safe because they can be seen then the streets belong to the good and true again. Cities like London and Manchester took this to a new level and completely designed out crime in certain areas. I am just suggesting that we do it a bit here.”
He said for those who know the alleyway “you will see there is graffiti, mess, alcohol cans and so on. Is this the image we want for Wisbech? Compare this to the alleyway a few meters away where the Galleria is; this is wide, well light, used by people and has a whole better feel. This is what we should be promoting”
He said police were tackling the street drinkers and people who are doing this. “Believe it or not, many of these people are turning to drink as they have been exploited and are in a depressed state,” he said. “We and others are working with them in an attempt to get them back on their feet whilst bringing the offenders to justice. However this will not happen overnight and so we need some short term fixes.
“This is also not a permanent feature. It will be reviewed on a yearly basis. If there is a time when we feel we do not have a street drinking problem then they can be taken down. As for the style of the gates – of course we want them to look good. They will be similar in design as the ones in Norfolk Street.”
He added: “Remember that this is not a done deal but it does need you to make your views known”