The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 allows local authorities to make orders to gate public highways (alleyways) with locked gates, but at present if members of the public  object, there is no automatic referral to an independent adjudicator.

The gating-order law should either be repealed, or it should be amended so that, where a member of the public objects to a gating order, it is automatically referred to the Planning Inspectorate, who appoints an independent inspector to determine the case.

Why is this idea important?

The routes which are being gated are public highways in law, which everyone has the right to use.  Therefore when it is proposed to erect locked gates across them the public should have a chance to object and to be heard by an independent judge.  At present, the local authority is judge and jury in its own case and can ignore the views of the public.  And often the local authority provides insufficient evidence of the need to gate the route. If there was a public inquiry, the evidence could be independently tested.

These routes, often alleyways, are frequently useful short cuts to and from, for instance, the shops, the school, the community hall or bus stop. They provide traffic-free routes.

When the law was being passed, the government gave an assurance that it would only be used on urban routes. In fact a number of rural routes are also being gated.

Ideally, the law would be revoked, but failing that, there must be an opportunity for the public to be heard.

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