HC Deb 09 February 2004 vol 417 cc62-3WS
The Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality (Alun Michael)

At a seminar in London later today, I will be announcing the names of those authorities whose nominated areas will included in a second designation order under section 118B of the Highways Act 1980. My Department and the Home Office are jointly sponsoring the seminar, which deals with crime reduction on rights of way. Over 180 delegates from local authorities, the police and crime and disorder reduction partnerships are expected to attend.

Designation will enable these highway authorities to make orders to close or divert rights of way to prevent crime. The designation order will be subject to the negative resolution procedure and will be laid as quickly as possible so that authorities can begin to use their new powers as soon as possible.

Two of the authorities concerned—Hillingdon and Leeds—were deferred from the first round of applications to give them the opportunity to provide the required level of evidence that rights of way in those areas are facilitating crime.

The remainder are all new applications received since last year. These are from Brighton and Hove, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Oldham, York, Swale and the Wirral. A list of the authorities and the areas is set out below.

The quality of applications was very good and I am satisfied that in each of these areas there are very real problems with crime associated with the public rights of way, and that other means of crime prevention had been tried and had failed.

Tackling crime and antisocial behaviour remains one of the Government's top priorities. This announcement today is very good news for the many people living in areas such as these which are blighted by burglary, robbery, drug dealing and general antisocial behaviour.

I have written to each of the nine authorities to inform them of my decision. I have also written to those Members of Parliament whose constituencies are directly affected to let them know what has been decided.

It remains my view that, in general rights of way do not cause or facilitate crime, but that we need to act vigorously where there is a connection.

Authority (9 in total) Areas (20 areas)
Brighton and Hove City Council Whitehawk Estate
London Borough of Hillingdon Frankie's Alley
Leeds City Council 1. Seacroft, Halton Ward
2. St Alban's Estate, Burmantofts Ward
3. St Martin's Gardens, Chapel Allerton Ward
4. University Ward
5. Wensley Green, Chapel Allerton Ward
6. Seacroft Ward
7. Calverley Gardens, Bramley Ward
Middlesbrough Council Keswick Grove
Nottingham City Council Rise Park
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council 1. Werneth/Hollinwood
2. St Paul's/Alexandra
3. East Oldham—St Mary's/Waterhead/Lees
Swale Borough Council Marine Town
York City Council 1. South Bank
2. The Groves
3. Clifton/Bootham
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 1. Wallasey
2. Tranmere (Rock Ferry and New Ferry)