Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Back in September, we reported one of those issues where commonsense should prevail - but doesn’t.
It concerns residents in Punchbowl Lane, who are beset by anti-social behaviour from people using an access route from Ingelow Avenue, and who had appealed for help from Boston Borough Council.
The borough’s Policy and Projects Committee asked the Cabinet to consider doing something about the access - but the legal advice was that it was a public highway which the council couldn’t close – so the problem was sent to BTAC - the Boston Town Area Committee.
BTAC faced three choices.
• note the situation and do nothing.
• formally ask the County Council to put the access on its Definitive Map, which records public rights of way - which it may not agree to do, and which would still not make it possible to close it or to maintain it to a decent standard.
• use BTAC cash to improve security in the area.
Now, a report before tonight's BTAC meeting again highlights the stupidity of rules and regulations which seem designed to hinder peoples’ lives rather than to help them.
One option which has been investigated in more detail since the last meeting is creating a gating order – quite simply closing the access at certain times.
But that can’t be done – and guess why?
The amount of crime being committed is not enough.
“In the case of the footpath under scrutiny, although incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour have been formally reported, the number and nature do not indicate a ‘significant’ crime and anti-social behaviour issue with the access,” says a report to the committee.
And in little by way of consolation, it notes that this in no way intended to minimise the trauma and concern felt by those living immediately beside the access.
Apparently, no crime or anti-social behaviour has been reported to the council’s anti-social behaviour team since April. The last four incidents reported to the police were about bricks being thrown into a resident’s garden, and fencing being stolen in March; an alleged drug deal in the access route in May, and metal being banged in the alley and youths with lights in September.
The report adds that Lincolnshire Police have no current intention to press for a gating order, and the council’s own ASB team doesn’t have enough evidence to pursue one with the County Council alone.
This - as we pointed out last time - is the same anti-social behaviour team which posed larger than life for a poster campaign, with the apparently incorrect assertion that no one need suffer from anti-social behaviour.
The report therefore concludes that: “It is questionable whether pursuing a gating order is actually a feasible option at the present time.”
Once a gating order is ruled out, the remaining options are to fence the access, or install CCTV.
Fencing would cost between £4,200 and £6,300 – depending on the type used.
As far as CCTV is concerned, providing the sort of camera the council likes would be around £25,000 - plus running costs of between £5,000 and £6,000 a year.
And the final conclusion?
“Unfortunately there does not appear to be an optimum, cost effective and proportionate solution to the issues at hand. In determining what if any further action or recommendation(s) the committee takes, its members may wish to consider what if any precedence may be set by any option(s) or recommendations it determines to take.”
Ironically, another report to BTAC says that committee is underspent for the financial year 2010/11 to the tune of £52,374. This is largely due to the ward improvement and Central Park budgets, being underspent by £13,781 and £19,500 - although the Central Park underspent is because a project started just before the end of the financial year.
The report concludes: “The biggest risk regarding whether there is a further underspend in 2011/12 remains the Ward Improvement budget. The Committee needs to develop a forward plan for the use of such reserves as part of its overall financial strategy.”
Members are urged to think about how they intend to use their remaining ward allocation of reserves of £13,281 for 2011/12 – i.e. spend it in the next four months.
As it seems there is nothing else to spend the money on at present, surely a special case could be made to use some of it without a queue forming of people wanting to cash in on the “precedent” established?
No, that would be too easy.
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