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Council rejects call for riverside open space to be shut at night

Southwark Council has rejected suggestions that Cathedral Square on Bankside should be gated and closed to the public at night.

Council rejects call for riverside open space to be shut at night
Council rejects call for riverside open space to be shut at night
Council rejects call for riverside open space to be shut at night

Southwark agreed to carry out a formal consultation exercise on the idea of gating the space after a local resident complained to the Local Government Ombudsman that the council had not responded adequately to complaints of late-night antisocial behaviour in Cathedral Square.

Cathedral Square is a public space close to London Bridge which is bordered by the Thames in the north and Montague Close and Southwark Cathedral in the south.

Residents of the adjacent Minerva House allege that they are disturbed by rough sleepers, people drinking, making noise, climbing on the river wall and other antisocial behaviour.

In the year to June 2014 the police received 36 calls to 999 or 101 relating to Cathedral Square and Montague Close. Of these, 20 calls came from Minerva House, 15 of them from one flat within the block.

Earlier this month Cllr Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for public health, parks and leisure, approved council officers' recommendations that the square remain open as at present.

A report prepared by Des Waters, the council's head of public realm, concluded that "the closure and gating of Cathedral Square during night-time hours would be disproportionate to the level of anti-social behaviour in the square and would result in an unacceptable loss of amenity to the public".

Mr Waters added that fencing and gating the square would be "contrary to current planning policy, contrary to existing legal agreements, not justified by the level [of] evidence of significant crime or antisocial behaviour in this area and not supported by a wide range of local stakeholders".

The council says that gating the square would cost 20,000 and incur annual costs of 11,000.

Cathedrals ward councillor David Noakes convened a meeting to discuss the problem last November. 19 people attended, including nine Minerva House residents.

Local organisations opposed to the night-time closure of the square included Southwark Cathedral. In a letter to the council, the Dean, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, said that the antisocial behaviour was a "serious issue" but warned that reducing access to a public space would set a dangerous precedent.

Borough Market managing director Keith Davis said that he did not feel that all other options to tackle the problem had been considered, and suggested that gating the space could create further problems with antisocial behaviour.

"We also believe it is important that the public can enjoy the views of the Thames at night," he added.

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