HC Deb 27 June 2002 vol 387 c943
5. Mr. David Chaytor (Bury, North)

When she will issue a consultation paper on special extinguishment orders. [63006]

The Minister for Rural Affairs (Alun Michael)

I have now published proposals on how we will enable local authorities to close or divert alleyways on housing estates, where this is necessary to cut crime. I have also published proposals on the closure or diversion of footpaths on school premises to promote pupil and teacher safety.

Mr. Chaytor

May I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, and say how much the consultation paper will be welcomed by officers in the Bury division of the Greater Manchester police, who are keen to move to these special extinguishment orders? Does he agree, however, that it has taken rather a long time to get to this position? Will he assure the House that, when the consultation period concludes on 20 September, he will ensure that his Department analyses the response to the consultation as quickly as possible, so that police forces and highways authorities across the country can introduce the special extinguishment orders, in particular, to advance their work in crime prevention?

Alun Michael

I thank my hon. Friend for that comment. Yes, this has taken a long time. That is partly because the requirements of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 are complex, precisely because there is a need to balance the closure of rights of way with the protection of them. The designation process is being used to ensure that there is no inappropriate use of this facility. I will certainly take a personal interest in ensuring that the results are analysed as soon as the consultation period is over, and that the facility becomes available to police and local authorities as quickly as possible. We have accelerated the process, although I agree with my hon. Friend that this has taken longer than I would have liked.