A Northampton alleyway notorious for being the scene of anti-social behaviour is set to be gated.
Jeyes Jetty, which links the Drapery to College Street, has attracted anti-social behaviour in recent years including street drinking and drug taking as well as a rape for which two men were convicted in 2017.
Northampton Borough Council leaders are now proposing to put gates at either end to control access, and it is likely they would be used at night.
A council document that sets out the case for gates describes the type of behaviour they would aim to prevent: "For many years, Jeyes Jetty has been used as a place to conduct illicit activities, away from the scrutiny of passing pedestrians and other capable guardians such as the police and wardens.
But it adds: "Due to the narrowness and layout of the alleyway, CCTV coverage is very limited."
In order to legally restrict access to Jeyes Jetty, the cabinet intends to pass a motion next week that would implement a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).
Such orders can be made for a maximum of three years.
Breach of a PSPO is a criminal offence which can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a prosecution resulting in a fine of up to £1,000 on conviction. Enforcement can be undertaken by council officers or police officers.
Northamptonshire Police recommended the gating of Jeyes Jetty in 2009 but, at the time, the legislation made it too expensive.
However, the anti-social behaviour continued and, at the end of its review of ‘Keep Northampton Tidy’ in March 2015, the council's Overview & Scrutiny Panel recommended that consideration be given to “the gating of jetties at night in the town centre that are currently subject to anti-social behaviour”.
Since the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, gating of a highway can now be achieved by the making of a PSPO, simplifying the process and significantly reducing the cost.
If the council cabinets votes for a PSPO, it will foot the bill for planning permission, the purchase and installation of the gates, and ongoing maintenance.
The initial cost is expected to be between £15,000 and £20,000 and will be met from existing budgets. Ongoing maintenance will be funded from FPNs.