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Merthyr Council approves installation of gates in five lanes and alleyways to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour

PLANS to install gates in five lanes and alleyways in Merthyr Tydfil to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour have been approved.

The council’s cabinet approved the measure at its meeting on Wednesday, February 24, to make a public spaces protection order (PSPO) to install gates in certain areas of the county borough.

Gates will be installed on the lane adjacent to residential premises at Upper Thomas Street, the lane to the rear of Upper Thomas Street and Union Street, the lane to the rear of Lower Thomas Street and Union Street (Somerset Place), the lane to the rear of William Street and Mary Street and the lane to the rear of Rees Street.

It follows reports of incidents such as people being drunk or rowdy, substance misuse, fly-tipping, people defecating or urinating, the anti-social use of vehicles and break-ins.

The order for the five areas are set to come into force on March 26 to allow the PSPO to be published and signs put up.

When in force, the law states that people have six weeks to challenge a PSPO which in this instance will mean they have until May 7.

A consultation lasting four weeks was held and included a canvass of residents and businesses living and working in the vicinity of the alleyways that are proposed to be gated.

The council also wrote to utility companies, emergency services, social landlords, and the police and crime commissioner for their views on the proposal.

By February 10, the council had received 104 responses to the consultation with 96 responses coming from residents who lived in close proximity to the proposed gated lanes.

The remainder were from local businesses, visitors to the area or representatives of a local community group.

Of those that responded to the consultation 73 (70%) indicated that they had experienced activities such as crime, disorder and/or antisocial behaviour in or associated with lanes one to five but 31 (29.8%) said that they had

A PSPO can be made by a local authority if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that two conditions are met.

Firstly, that activities carried on in a public place within the authority’s area have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality and secondly, it is likely that activities will be carried on in a public place within that area and that they will have such an effect.

Of those who said they had experienced crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in and around these lanes, 70% confirmed that it had had a detrimental effect on their quality of life or the quality of life of those in the area.

When asked if the activities were persistent, continuing, unreasonable and whether the proposal to restrict access by installing lockable gates was justified the consultation responses confirmed that 67.4% thought
the behaviour was persistent and continuing, 68.4% considered this behaviour to be unreasonable and 65.8% believed that the proposed restriction was justified.

In terms of the gate proposals, 93.5% agreed with installing them on the first lane, 89.6% agreed on the second lane, 94.1% agreed on the third lane, 97.3% agreed on the fourth lane and 88.9% agreed on the fifth lane.

Councillor Andrew Barry said it deals with some “really impactful” issues for residents that they have faced for some time.

In terms of the type of gates to be installed, 64% confirmed a preference for a key activated lock.

This will mean lane one will require keys for five properties and one other property.

Lane two will require keys for 21 properties and possibly one other property.

Lane three will require keys for 58 properties, lane four will require keys for 44 properties and lane five will require keys for 22 properties.

The South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael approved of the proposal.

The current indicative costs for manufacture and installation of gates is around £58,000 which will all be covered by the South Wales Police Safer Streets Fund grant and any sign and advertising costs will also be covered by the fund.

The ongoing maintenance will be the responsibility of the council with further consideration to be given around which council department will be responsible as the costs of maintenance will have to be met from that department’s budget.

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