A town divided over plans to open ginnel

Residents of Earnshaw Drive, Leyland, at the entrance to the closed ginnel
Residents of Earnshaw Drive, Leyland, at the entrance to the closed ginnel
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“Thugs put our window through and we had to replace 10 garden fences when that ginnel was open.”

A row has erupted over a petition to open a walkway between Leyland Lane and Earnshaw Drive in Leyland.

The Guardian reported that people living on the Leyland Lane side want the access re-opening, after it closed three years ago when the former Shell garage next to it was demolished.

But those living at the Earnshaw Drive end say it was a ‘nightmare’ for anti-social behaviour problems, when gangs of teens used to gather in the entrance.

Kay Beesley, who lives next door to the ginnel, said: “I can’t believe some people want this opening.

“It was such a nightmare for us for about 10 years. We had our windows put through once and we’ve had to replace 10 garden fences.

“People used to ride through on motorbikes and there was a lot of drink and drugs activity going on too.

“The police got involved on a regular basis and it really affected our quality of life.”

She added: “Saying it was ‘anti-social behaviour’ is an understatement really, but we haven’t had to contact the police at all since it closed.”

Shell owns the now-derelict land on Leyland Lane, along with the ginnel which runs beside it, but when the garage was pulled down, fences were put around the site and the footpath.

Mrs Beesley, 55, said she was delighted when that happened, but is now concerned that calls are being made to open it up once again.

She said: “There’s another ginnel about 200 yards down the road which also connects Leyland Lane and Earnshaw Drive, so there’s no need to open this one.

“People complain that the lighting is poor down there at night, so maybe that should be sorted out instead.”

PC Paul Connell, from Leyland police, also said it was a problem-spot when the alleyway was open.

He said: “It did attract a lot of anti-social behaviour, particularly for Mr and Mrs Beesley, who live right next door.

“Youths would congregate, and since it’s shut, there has been a significant drop in anti-social behaviour in the area.

“I think it’s because it forces people to use the other ginnel, which means that one is always quite busy, and youths are less likely to hang out there.”

He added: “I would encourage the landowner to keep it closed; it has definitely been a massive benefit from our perspective.”

Councillor for the area, Jane Bell, helped residents launch a petition to open it up a few months ago, and has written to Lancashire County Council and Shell about the matter.

But it’s since come to light that the access to the ginnel is not public land, so there’s little the council can do about it.

Shell is currently trying to sell the site, so any proposals to open the ginnel will be subject to the new owner’s decision.

Coun Bell said: “I was responding to requests from residents who wanted the ginnel open, but we’ve done all we can now.

“It’ll be up to the new owners to decide what they want to do with the ginnel, so it’s just a waiting game now.”