The ‘rough and rotten’ reasons why council have decided to gate off Northampton jetty

It is the town centre alleyway that you barely notice during the day but at night becomes an anti-social and criminal behaviour hotspot.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 9:30 am
The Jeyes Jetty will eventually be closed off to the public after a vote by the borough council's cabinet

The list of incidents over the years at the Jeyes Jetty, the narrow alleyway connecting Drapery to College Street, has been a long one.

Northamptonshire Police had recommended the gating of the Jetty all the way back in 2009, but costings prevented this from happening. And Northampton Borough Council’s own overview and scrutiny panel repeated the recommendation four years ago.

Now, in 2019, it has finally come to pass that the Jetty will be locked up for good. Members of the borough council’s cabinet formally approved creating a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for the Jetty on Tuesday evening (October 16).

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It restricts the right of way for the public, and allows authorised enforcement officers to issue £100 fixed penalty notices to anyone committing an offence in the jetty.

When looking at the rap sheet for this calendar year alone, it’s no surprise.

In February 2018, 24-year-old Bradley Matcham died after being punched outside the Jetty. His mother Sarah spoke passionately about gating it off, and said if it had been then her son would still be alive.

In the same month alone, a male was enticed down the alleyway and beaten up by six men and another was tripped over and had his rucksack stolen.

A month prior to that, a fire had been started deliberately, while in March, a man who was urinating in the alleyway tried to grab the penis of another man urinating there, and ran off to catch a taxi after being challenged by the victim.

And in April, a man challenged by officers after they smelled drugs told them he was ‘just finishing his spliff’, and another man had his wallet stolen.

The number of incidents helped prompt a consultation with residents on whether they supported proposals to gate the jetty off, which 188 people responded to.

A fraction of 70 per cent supported the 24/7 closure, while 73 per cent of the respondents agreed that there is a suitable alternative route. Less than 10 per cent felt that anti-social behaviour wasn’t a problem, while 48 per cent had directly suffered anti-social behaviour in the alley.

It was a statistic that staggered council leader Jonathan Nunn, who outlined why the cabinet took the decision to back the proposals.

“It’s not something we took lightly,” he said. “It’s quite an intimidating place to walk along, you can’t pass people so you feel slightly enclosed. People feel intimidated by the atmosphere but in actual practice some really rough and rotten stuff has happened there.”