TRADERS have been told they cannot have their town centre alleyways locked at night to prevent vandalism and graffiti.
Business owners in Wellington Lane and Silver Lane, Stamford, have had ongoing problems with people using their shop fronts as toilets and leaving a trail of debris after nights out in the town centre.
Last year police officers last year stepped up their patrols and council chiefs expanded cleaning rotas to help combat the problem. But traders wanted a more permanent solution and suggested that gates should be installed to close off the lanes outside of trading hours.
Insp Gary Stewart, of Lincolnshire Police, backed the plans but Lincolnshire County Council has ruled that gates cannot be installed. “Shopkeepers have expressed their disgust about people urinating in the alleyways,” he said. “Most of the problems take place in the evenings and unfortunately our officers can’t be everywhere at once. When we come across something like this, we deal with it, but we can’t be there all the time.
“Anything that makes Stamford a better place can only be a good thing, and if putting gates up to close off the alleyways at night will solve this problem, I would be fully supportive of it.”
Police officers met the community safety team at South Kesteven District Council but the matter was referred to the highways department at Lincolnshire County Council.
Officers there have since ruled that because the two lanes are classed as “through routes”, they cannot be blocked off.
Sandy Kavanagh, community safety officer for the district council, said: “We have had meetings with traders, Stamford Town Council and other partners. There are people who expressed doubt about whether or not the gates should be installed. Historically Stamford Town Council has said these lanes are part of the heritage of Stamford and should not be locked off.
“It would be an answer to the problem, and we have been able to achieve it in other areas of the county, but because of the legislation it can’t be done in this case.”
Traders were disappointed by the news. Andy Stretton, owner of Stamford Photo Express in Red Lion Street, said: “It’s a very disappointing outcome for us and I really don’t know how to tackle the issue. We really don’t want this going on down here but there isn’t the manpower to stop it.
“It’s just a real shame that this kind of behaviour goes on and that people use alcohol as a reasonable excuse for using the streets as toilets.”
Cheryl Townsend, who works at Lunch Buns in Wellington Lane, said: “We are the ones who have to clear up all the mess so it is really disappointing.
“I think there could be more patrols to deter them but installing gates would have been the best solution to deter the behaviour.”
Kevin Brumfield, area highways manager for Lincolnshire County Council said: “We understand following a joint agency meeting, this issue has been removed from a list of community concerns. However generally speaking, we wouldn’t support any move to block people’s access to the highways.”