Row over Darwen alley gates continues
4:00pm Saturday 26th January 2013 in News
SENIOR Labour councillors are to block plans for a set of lockable alleygates in Darwen despite the proposals being given planning permission on Thursday.
They believe that back streets in the Whitehall area are ‘too clean’ and that the £70,000 plus needed to block them off would be a waste of cash.
The gates are the brainchild of local councillor and Blackburn with Darwen Liberal Democrat leader David Foster who believes they are essential to combat anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.
Last year borough neighbourhood chief Yusuf Jan Virmani sanctioned sealing off the back pathways behind Woodville Terrace, Portland Street, Maria Street, and Alfred Street.
December’s meeting of the council’s planning committee deferred approving the scheme after several councillors, led by Suddell Liberal Democrat Paul Browne, questioned whether the gates were needed and would meet new guidelines for installation.
On Thursday the committee gave planning permission but senior Labour councillors Phil Reilly and Dave Harling questioned the value of the scheme.
Chairman Jim Smith joined them, saying they should be vetoed by the borough Executive Board after the policy change.
Labour group secretary Coun Riley said after the meeting: “When the council is trying to find cuts of £30 million in the next two years, I don’t believe these particular alleygates costing £70,000 to £80,000 are justified.
“I shall be asking Coun Virmani to remove them from the programme.”
Coun Smith said: “I do not think these gates meet the new policy guidelines. I do not think they will go ahead.”
Coun Foster said: “I think this is appalling. Coun Virmani considered the proposal carefully and went through the process of approving and advertising them.
“This is not just about rubbish but about crime and anti-social behaviour. If they were deemed right last year, nothing has changed.”
Coun Browne, who proposed approval, said: “I think what the Labour councillors are doing is disgusting. It is a vendetta against David Foster.”
Coun Riley said: “It’s nothing to do with Coun Foster. It’s about value for money in hard times.”