The article in our February 2011 Newsletter regarding the proposed alleygates in Wavertree Nook Road/Fieldway came as a shock to many residents of Wavertree Garden Suburb. They contacted us - and the City Council - to complain that the decision to install the gates had been taken without proper consultation, and would result in the loss of a well-used and much-appreciated public passageway which was an integral part of the Garden Suburb's design 100 years ago. We discovered that, of the 56 households who had been asked for their views on the proposal last year, not a single one was in Nook Rise or on the 'odd numbered' side of Wavertree Nook Road (directly opposite the passageway in question). Nor were the residents of Heywood Road consulted, even though - as those who attended the Traffic & Highways Representations Committee meeting on 1st February pointed out - the installation of gates off Wavertree Nook Road seems likely to divert the focus of anti-social behaviour to the other (Heywood Road) passageway. Furthermore, it emerged that the Council had not followed its own Gating Order Policy which requires it to consider a range of alternative measures (e.g. CCTV cameras, S.30 Dispersal Orders, increased policing and physical measures) before authorising the installation of alleygates.
All of these points were put to the Council's Legal Department, who discussed them with the Committee Chairman (Councillor Malcolm Kennedy) and the other member of the Committee (Councillor Tim Moore) on 7th April. The response was as follows: "Both members were very clear that, whilst they appreciate your concerns, they remain of the view that the gating of the passageway is an appropriate measure and that the correct procedures have been followed. Councillor Kennedy also emphasised that as part of the decision he specifically requested that he be provided with monthly progress reports on the effectiveness of the gate".
Luciana Berger MP, and the Childwall Ward councillors, reiterated to residents that - being unaware of any opposition to the alleygates plan - they had given the proposal their support. Councillor Rosie Jolly - whose Wavertree Ward includes part of the Garden Suburb - attempted to have the decision 'called in' for scrutiny by the relevant Select Committee, but was told that she had no power to do this as the gates will be in Childwall Ward, not Wavertree.
The root cause of this unsatisfactory situation is the Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005, which allows local councils to make a Gating Order without going through the traditional Public Rights of Way consultation and inquiry procedure. A consequence, though, is that in legal terms the blocking of the passageway is not a permanent closure; the Council has a duty to review its decisions periodically, and has the power to order the removal of the gates at any time. Any resident aggrieved by the installation of the alleygates is therefore urged to make their views known to Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, as well as to their local Councillors and MP.