Footpath closure causing controversy

OVERNIGHT closure of a footpath in Great Yarmouth is continuing to cause controversy. Gates leading to St Nicholas Churchyard have been closed overnight by the council since May following three assaults in the churchyard and anti-social behaviour including damage to memorials and graves.

OVERNIGHT closure of a footpath in Great Yarmouth is still causing controversy.

Gates leading to St Nicholas's Churchyard have been closed overnight by the council since May after three assaults in the churchyard and damage to memorials and graves.

Labour's Mick Castle has been fighting to overturn the decision, claiming the closure obstructs a right of way used by dozens of residents.

At a meeting between police and representatives of the borough council ground maintenance and bereave-ment services team, it emerged the closures were having a positive effect on crime levels in the area and it was decided that gates at Sainsbury's, Town Wall Road and Factory Road would stay closed from 7.30pm.


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However, Mr Castle is still not happy with the situation and has called for the matter to be included on the agenda for December's meeting of the Yarmouth area liaison committee.

He said: "I think the real anger will come when the gates close at 4.30pm once the clocks go back - it will be an inconvenience for a lot of people.

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"They have failed to grasp the fact this is a right of way used by a lot of people."

Borough bereavement services manager Linda Bigg said there had been no further assaults since the closures began and neighbours had noticed a fall in anti-social behaviour.

She added that police were talking to church authorities about having a trial period of overnight closures for the main church gates, which remained open overnight.

Mrs Bigg said a handful of residents had raised issues with councillors, but, when the reasons behind the closures had been fully explained, the complainants had understood the need for closure.

She said she had only received two complaints about the closure of the Sainsbury's gate, one from Mr Castle and the other from a resident who said the closure would add an extra 10 minutes on the journey from her home to Sainsbury's.

Mrs Bigg said: "The gates have been locked for public safety. I can understand why people are not happy, but when you balance another 10 minutes on a journey with your own personal safety I would prefer to walk the extra distance.

"There is still a problem with vandalism. There has been a little more but nothing like we had previously.

"All things considered, I think the scheme has worked well."

Earlier this year, thousands of pounds of damage was done to memorials and graves and arsonists torched a 200-year-old chapel.

The building in the south cemetery was gutted, and repairs are on hold while the insurance claim goes through.

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