Shutting the gate on Sutton’s yobs

THE battle against yobs who have been terrorising Sutton residents is a step closer to being won after a decision to gate off two trouble-hit networks of footpaths was taken by council chiefs.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Rights of Way Committee has voted to install gates to shut off access to alleyways near Percival Close on the Carsic Estate and off Bowne Street in the town centre.

Both areas had become hotspots for anti-social behaviour, with residents - many of whom are classified as vulnerable - experiencing rowdy behaviour and vandalism on an almost weekly basis.

Attempts to reduce the problems - including increasing police patrols - have previously failed, so it is hoped that closing the footpaths as a thoroughfare will finally stop the trouble.

Percival Close resident Christine Smith (61) welcomed the decision.

She has had her dustbin emptied by youths, is frequently woken up at night by shouting and swearing and has had her car’s wing mirror broken off - even finding footprints on the vehicle’s bonnet and roof.

“You’re on edge all the time,” she said.

“I don’t sleep very well because at the slightest noise I’m thinking ‘what’s happening now?’

Christine said that many of her neighbours had also been affected by the ‘mindless vandalism’ and said that the different escape routes provided by the alleys mean that it is easy for the offenders to get away and difficult for the police to patrol.

She hopes that the gates will stop this.

“They will know they can’t get round and through and even if they climb over the gates it will take them time,” she said.

“I am so pleased the gating has been approved and the finance is in place and it will get done sooner rather than later.”

Forty-eight calls had been made to police by residents in the Percival Close area in the 12 months to October 2011 with 32 of these linked to rowdy, inconsiderate behaviour.

On Bowne Street, 15 incidents had been reported, with residents there having problems with yobs leaving rubbish and urinating down the alleyways.

Gating orders can be used by highways authorities to restrict the use of a footpath to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour instead of permanently stopping it up or diverting it.

The gates installed will remain closed 24/7.

Coun Bruce Laughton, chairman of the rights of way committee, said: “The decision to carry out the gating order for footpaths adjacent to Percival Close and Bowne Street was unanimous and was done as it was considered to be the best solution to the needs of local residents to be protected from anti-social behaviour and crime.

“We have also protected the access to local businesses so that they can still access their premises.”

Police in Ashfield initiated the idea for the gating orders to reduce anti-social behaviour and to make policing of the areas ‘more effective’.

A police spokesman said that there will now be a period of statutory consultation before the gating orders can be finally confirmed.

He said: “The areas have been selected because of the higher than average levels of antisocial behaviour, with more than 30 incidents in Percival Close alone in the past 12 months.

“Many of those incidents are related to use of the adjoining alleyway.

“The gating order, which has previously been used elsewhere in Ashfield, should hopefully provide a greater measure of protection for the elderly and vulnerable residents who live in that part of Sutton.”