City centre cycling route to be closed in the evenings as new fence is approved for Guildhall Walk
The city centre cycling route of Guildhall Walk will be closed during working hours after a new fence at the site was approved.
A compromise solution was agreed between Peterborough City Council and Barclays which has borne the brunt of anti-social behaviour in the alleyway which runs between Cathedral Square and Priestgate.
The bank, which is situated next to the problem area, successfully argued that defecation, urination, drug use and rough sleeping were making it unpleasant for their staff coming to work.
However, councillors on the council’s planning committee extended the fence’s opening hours beyond what Barclays was proposing, with access allowed between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 5pm on Sunday.
And the front gate which faces Cathedral Square will have to be re-designed into a solid-panelled fence before it is allowed to shut in the evenings.
Addressing the committee this afternoon (Tuesday, June 14), Tom Lambshead, agent for the application, said: “Bank staff have had to clean up mess which is not only unpleasant, but dangerous. The police have offered their full support for the application.
“Closing off the alleyway outside office hours will not see people suddenly use their cars.
“The bank is offering a compromise solution.”
Mr Lambshead also wondered why cycling should be allowed down the alleyway when it was banned down nearby Bridge Street due to the risk to pedestrians.
He also said the extra walk to bypass Guildhall Walk would take an estimated extra two minutes.
Graham Martin, from Barclays, said: “For a number of years there has been minor and major anti-social behaviour. I can honestly say the last 18 months have been horrendous for staff and the public using Guildhall Walk - there’s been threatening behaviour, foul and abusive behaviour, food rubbish from nearby restaurants, needles.
“But the worst thing to have to face is the area’s been used as a public toilet. Even during the day a member of the public was urinating in broad daylight.
“What we proposed is a compromise, not a full closure, so Guildhall Walk will be open during the day when law-abiding citizens and pedestrians can use it.”
The proposals to close the alleyway during the evenings had received a number of objections, and the council’s planning officers had recommended that the application be refused, claiming that the problems could be resolved without a new fence.
However, most councillors were firmly in agreement with Barclays, with Cllr Peter Hiller saying: “You have my sympathy, it’s a bank you run not a public toilet.”
However, like many others he hit out at the current fence which he said “looks like an open prison.”
Disapproval over the opening hours originally proposed by Barclays, which would have seen the alleyway closed on Sundays and from 3pm on Saturdays, led to a compromise.
Cllr Lucia Serluca and Cllr Chris Harper, who like Cllr Hiller are members of the Conservative group, also sympathised with Barclays. Cllr Harper said it was “dead wrong” that the alleyway is used as a toilet and he highlighted the money spent on improving the city centre.
He added: “I think we have a duty to protect the area and the public.”
However, Liberal Democrat member Cllr Andrew Bond said: “I feel sorry for the bank, but because bad things happen should we take it away from people who use it correctly?”
Both Cllr Bond and Cllr Chris Ash, of the Liberal Party, wanted the application to be refused at the current time.
Cllr Ash said: “It’s safer, easier and far better to refuse this now so Barclays can talk to officers.”
But the suggestion to defer the matter was rejected, and Cllrs Bond and Ash were the only two to object to a recommendation to replace the current gate at Guildhall Walk.