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ACTION ON CRIME HOTSPOTS AND RIGHTS OF WAY OBSTRUCTIONS

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Measures to enable local authorities to seek special powers to close ...
Measures to enable local authorities to seek special powers to close

off back alleys that encourage crime on housing estates were

announced today by rural affairs minister Alun Michael. He also

announced measures to increase safety for pupils and teachers where

there is a problem on a school site. Mr Michael also stated that

people will soon be able to make local authorities remove certain

obstructions from rights of way.

Mr Michael today published two consultation papers today dealing with

proposals to implement the crime prevention and obstructions

provisions in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The crime

consultation paper also sets out proposals to implement the Act's

provisions for school security.

In answer to a parliamentary question Mr Michael said:

'I am today publishing proposals to implement provisions in Schedule

6 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to will enable the closure

or diversion of rights of way where this is necessary for crime

prevention or to promote pupil and teacher safety. These new powers

will enable highway authorities to address the disruption caused by

persistent criminal activity in back alleys, or gulleys, on housing

estates.

'As these important new powers are not regarded as a first response

to tackling crime, we will designate areas where the new crime

prevention powers will be available'.

'Highway authorities will normally take the lead, working with local

crime and disorder reduction partnerships, police authorities, local

residents and user groups to formulate a submission to the Secretary

of State advocating any area at ward level that may warrant inclusion

in a designation order. In county areas, the district authority or

the local crime and disorder reduction partnership may be able to

make a submission if the county is unwilling to do so.

'The new schools provisions will enable a highway authority to close

or divert a right of way, where it crosses school land, for the

purpose of protecting pupils or staff from violence or other risks to

their health and safety. These provisions are not subject to the

designation process and will be available throughout England.

'I am also publishing proposals to implement section 63 of the Act.

These new provisions will ensure that members of the public have a

means to compel highway authorities to use their powers to remove

certain types of obstruction.

'Highway authorities already have specific powers to deal with

obstructions and recover costs from the persons concerned. These new

provisions will empower the public to directly influence the action

taken by authorities in dealing with obstructions.

'The public will be able to initiate action in relation to the

majority of obstructions that cause difficulties for rights of way

users, such as fences, overhanging vegetation and barbed wire. We are

inviting views on any other forms of obstruction that should be

covered by the provisions.'

Copies of 'Crime Prevention on Rights of Way: Public Consultation

paper on the Designation of Areas and Other Procedural Matters', and

'Enforcement of highway authorities duty to prevent obstructions on

rights of way: Consultation Paper on the implementation of section 63

of Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000' have been placed in the

library of the House. Views are invited by 20 September 2002.

NOTES

1. 'Crime Prevention on Rights of Way: Public Consultation Paper on

the Designation of Areas and other Procedural Matters' and

'Enforcement of highway authorities duty to prevent obstructions on

rights of way: Consultation Paper on the implementation of section

63 of Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000' were published on 19

June.

2. New crime prevention and school security provisions are

contained in paragraphs 8 and 12 of Schedule 6 of the Countryside

and Rights of Way Act 2000. These insert new sections 118B and 119B

into the Highways Act 1980. The consultation paper sets out the

Government's proposed approach to selecting areas where the are new

powers to close or divert right of way on the basis of crime

prevention will be available to highway authorities. The paper

contains a draft guidance note providing advice to highway

authorities on making a submission to the Secretary of State,

advocating inclusion of areas in a designation order. It is

proposed the areas will be defined at ward level, but we invite

views on alternatives. The wards selected by the secretary of state

will be listed in a designation order(s) and the powers will be

available within the ward boundaries.

3. In addition, the provisions provide for closure or diversion of

rights of way that cross school land if necessary to protect school

pupils or staff - these schools power will be available throughout

England.

4. Section 63 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act will inset

new section 130 A-D into the Highways Act 1980, which enable

members of the public to oblige a local highway authority to secure

the removal of certain types of obstruction. The consultation paper

seeks views on the form and content of various notices required by

the provisions, and invites views on whether there are any other

forms of obstruction that could be covered by the provisions in

regulations.

5. The closing date for both consultations is 20 September 2002.

6. Copies will be available from: DEFRA Publications, Admail 6000,

London SW1A 2XX. Tel: 08459 556000. It will also be available on

the DEFRA website .

7. The original proposals are set out in the 1999 consultation

paper 'Improving Rights of Way in England and Wales'.

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