The Executive Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities submitted a report that sought approval of the Gating Order Policy, which sets out the procedure for dealing with requests for Gating Orders and the implementation of any subsequent works using Legislation brought in by 'The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005'.
Gating of private and public alleyways in Middlesbrough had been undertaken for a number of years, particularly in the town's central residential areas where burglary and anti social behaviour were most prevalent. Where alleygates had been the appropriate solution to a problem, the reduction in crime as a result of alleygates had been significant.
Alleyways, ginnels, backways, snickets, passages, paths and walkways, whatever name you use for the narrow walkways behind and to the side of houses, putting a gate in had proved to be a very successful way of preventing burglary.
In addition to the prevention of burglary, gates stopped alleyways being used for all kinds of antisocial behaviour such as fly-tipping, dog fouling, small fires, drug and alcohol misuse etc. The effect of gating had meant that alleys had become safe places for the community to enjoy.
Alleygates were not always the most appropriate or cost-effective method of preventing a crime or anti-social behaviour problem and some environments, such as large open plan estates with many thoroughfares, did not lend themselves as effectively to alleygating schemes as the rear of terraced properties did. Gating of any thoroughfare would require an appropriate alternative route.
Middlesbrough Council therefore saw gating orders as a tool that should be used only when an investigation had concluded that other means of addressing the crime or anti-social behaviour problem had been exhausted or was not likely to be successful. When gating orders were deemed to be an appropriate response, it would be important to endeavour to choose the least restrictive form of gating. In all cases, individuals, businesses or groups requesting an order would need to identify funding to pay for all aspects of the gating order process. It had therefore been deemed necessary to draw up a Gating Order Policy, to ensure the Council had a consistent approach to the issue. This was attached as Appendix 1 of the report.
Although a Gating Order would prevent or limit the use of a highway, it did not remove the highway rights associated with it. An order may, in appropriate circumstances, limit the use of the highway to certain times of the day and orders may be varied or revoked should the crime or anti-social behaviour be reduced.
A Gating Order may have authorised the installation, operation and maintenance of a barrier to enforce the restriction or closure. A Council may install, operate and maintain any authorised barrier. The document sets out Middlesbrough Councils policy and procedure for dealing with requests for Gating Orders and the implementation of any subsequent works using Legislation which was brought in by 'The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005'.
During discussions Councillor Walker highlighted that the following amendments to the Gating Order Policy wording were needed:
Page 12 under heading: 'Consultation with Elected Members, Parish / Ward Councils and Community Councils' - that Consultation shall always be carried out with local Ward Councillors.
Page 18 under heading: 'Future Maintenance' - that should the gate require replacement or major repairs, then alternative funding will have to be sought.
The report outlined that there were three options available:
Option 1 - Reject the Gating Order Policy - If the Policy did not receive approval then it would have an immediate negative impact upon the current work undertaken by the Council and also on how the Council responded to requests for Gates that dealt with crime and anti-social behaviour on certain public highways.
Option 2 - Accept the Policy, but with changes - This option would have allowed the Council to tackle the issue of crime and anti-social behaviour, which was facilitated by certain public highways through an assessment process and possible eventual gating off. The policy had been development by employees with professional experience in this field and from feedback from the public on previous issues and consultation and engagement with key individuals and groups including shop mobility and the Councils Anti-social Behaviour team. It would therefore not be recommended that any changes were instigated into the Policy without full consultation with the author.
Option 3 - Accept the Policy as written - This option would have allowed the Council to tackle the issue of crime and anti-social behaviour within an area, which was facilitated by certain public highways through an assessment process and the eventual gating off. The policy also provided the process for reviewing gating orders as per the legislation.
That the Gating Order Policy attached as Appendix 1 of the report be approved.
The decision was supported by the following reason:
This option is recommended as the policy has been developed by Officers, which sets out the procedure for dealing with requests for Gating Orders and the implementation of any subsequent works using Legislation brought in by 'The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005'.