Councillors will fight to keep a £16,000 cemetery fence put up to fight anti-social behaviour despite planning permission being refused.
Stamford Town Council built the 2.4m steel fence at the back of the cemetery in Little Casterton Road without planning permission following complaints of drug abuse, sexual activity and vandalism in the area.
After objections from nearby residents, who called the fence “prison-like” and said people could jump over the wall at the front, the council applied for planning permission. But this was rejected by South Kesteven District Council planning officers, who said it was a “dominant and oppressive form of enclosure” and was “out of keeping with the character of the area.”
However, the town council is convinced the fence is necessary and has pledged to appeal the decision.
Town clerk Patricia Stuart-Mogg said: “The reason for installing this fencing was solely as a direct result of unacceptable occurrences of anti-social behaviour in the cemetery resulting in complaints being received from both visitors and residents alike.
“This anti-social behaviour took the form of drug abuse, sexual activity, unauthorised access to residents’ gardens and the wanton desecration of burial plots.
“The town council recognises that in its zeal to put an end to the escalating instances of anti-social behaviour at the earliest possible opportunity, the metal fencing was installed prior planning permission being in place. Consequently, a retrospective planning application was submitted which, regrettably, was refused on the basis of objections from some residents. The town council intends taking this decision to appeal.”
Despite the high cost of the fence to taxpayers, councillors believe it is worthwhile.
The town clerk said: “Police have confirmed that since installing the new fencing the level of antisocial behaviour in the cemetery has been reduced.
“It would be a tragedy if the fencing had to be removed with a consequential return perhaps to even increased levels of anti-social behaviour.
“The town council undertakes its duty of care responsibilities, especially in respect of the cemetery, with utmost gravity. It is hoped that dialogue with residents will resolve this matter in an amicable manner reflecting the best outcome for both those individual residents and the wider Stamford community as a whole.”