Residents fear vandalism as alleyway is set to reopen

Mike Otter near the overgrown ginnel in Farington
Mike Otter near the overgrown ginnel in Farington

Residents in Farington are frustrated over plans to reopen an alleyway which they argue will be a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

The passageway between shops in Bristol Avenue and Saint Clements Avenue cul de sac was closed about three years ago after complaints of low level crime, vandalism and drug taking. However, following a petition from one resident, Lancashire County Council has taken the decision to issue a notice re-opening the lane.

This was then appealed to planning inspector, Susan Doran, who has upheld the decision taken by county authority. The move has been met with irritation from residents living closest to the footpath in the Saint Clements Avenue cul de sac who say that the crime will come back as a result.

They have the support of their South Ribble Borough and Farington Parish councillor Paul Wharton, and Lancashire County coun Mike Otter.

Coun Wharton said: “The ginnel was shut off for very good reasons years ago.”

“It was being used as a place for undesirables to take drugs and vandalise.

“It also acted as a rat run and attracted lots of anti-social behaviour. After the ginnel was closed the troubles went away. If the ginnel is reopened it will bring it all back.

“The ginnel is a scary place in the dark. There are disabled residents round here, families with children.”

Coun Otter said he was disappointed at the ruling from the planning inspectorate.

“The inconvenience to the resident who started the petition to reopen the ginnel wasn’t that great,” he said.

“To actually walk from the furthest point from Saint Clements Avenue round to the Spar where you can come out takes about two or three minutes.

“A lot of families who live there were happy that it was closed because it meant their children could play there in total safety.”

However according to the report the planning inspectorate was not able to make a decision based on these arguments.

In her report Ms Doran wrote: ‘Concerns are expressed in the objections about security, vandalism and other forms of anti-social behaviour which are considered may resume if the Order were to be confirmed.

“A suggested compromise is that gates be installed and locked at night.

‘I understand the concerns and issues raised and their importance to those affected.

‘However they are not ones that I can take into account under the legislation in determining whether or not the Order route subsists as a public right of way.

‘Neither is it relevant to my decision that there is another convenient route for the public to use nearby.

‘Therefore I have not taken these matters into account when reaching my decision.’

Before the path was blocked up it had been in use by the area’s residents for about 20 years.

The backstreet is currently overgrown and will be reopened once the county council has cleared the vegetation.

It will now appear on The Lancashire County Council Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way which is a record of public rights of way - footpaths, bridleways and byways.