Plan to drive drugs, drinking and urinating out of blighted Preston streets

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Public access to alleyways running through a cluster of Preston streets is to be blocked off after they become hotspots for drinking and taking drugs.

Preston City Council’s cabinet has given the go-ahead to the creation of public space protection orders (PSPOs) that will restrict the right of way along ginnels off Balcarres Road, Shelley Road, Blackpool Road and Briggs Road in the Cadley ward.

The move will allow the authority to install alleygates at four locations, planning permission for which was granted earlier this year. That followed an informal consultation with householders who overwhelmingly backed the measures.

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In fact, it was residents themselves who first requested alleygates in the area., shortly before the onset of the pandemic. They were concerned about noise nuisance from young people and some local workers who were loitering, littering and drinking alcohol.

One of the alleyways, off Briggs Road, where gates will be installed after years of antisocial behaviour (image: Google)One of the alleyways, off Briggs Road, where gates will be installed after years of antisocial behaviour (image: Google)
One of the alleyways, off Briggs Road, where gates will be installed after years of antisocial behaviour (image: Google)

A report to cabinet members noted that the occupants of the affected properties were, at the time, “reluctant” to report the issues to the police.

While that reticence remains to some degree, multiple incidents have now been referred to police officers - and they reveal that the problems have been getting worse in the five years since they were first raised with the local authority.

Issues residents have had to endure include people smoking cannabis, drinking alcohol and leaving empty cans and - sometimes smashed - bottles behind, urinating, fly-tipping, the dumping of takeaway rubbish, shouting - and even the burglary of their sheds.

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Incidents not directly relating to the alleyways have also been reported, including eggs being thrown at windows, the rattling of front doors and theft from vehicles.

The Chief Constable of Lancashire Police, the Office of the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner and Lancashire County Council - in its capacity as the highways authority - were all consulted over the proposed PSPOs and none offered any objections to the plans. A six-week public consultation was also carried out.

Residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity will be given keys for access to the newly shut-off spaces - as will the police, fire brigade, council neighbourhood services and others who need them in order to carry out statutory duties.

Alleygates are already in place on other routes in the vicinity, having been installed back in 2012. They are just some of the more than 120 alleygates that exist across Preston.

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Fresh consultations have to be conducted every three years in order for PSPOs to remain in force.

Preston undertook the three-yearly review of all its alleygates last year - and residents once again gave their backing to retaining them. However, some concerns were raised about the upkeep of the alleyways themselves, something which the city council promised to remedy.