A problematic Lincoln alley which was gated off after years of drug and alcohol abuse and other anti-social behaviour, is to stay remain off-limits for at least another three years.
The City of Lincoln Council is reviewing the Public Spaces Protection Order put in place on St Peter’s Passage in 2018 and a report before the authority’s policy scrutiny committee next Tuesday will recommend extending the measures.
Local businesses and health organisations say that, despite a blip earlier this year when access was gained and the gate was damaged, the measures had made a massive improvement.
In response to a consultation exercise, one neighbouring business said: “Before the gates were in place St Peter’s Passageway was a hotbed of anti-social behaviour.
“Our fire exits were constantly used as a public toilet and a space for vagrants to fornicate and take drugs.
“Most days I or a team member had to pick up human faeces and used drug needles from the passageway and our fire exits.
“The smell of urine washed into our building and we would have to on mostly a daily basis sanitise and clean the area external to our fire exits.”
Another added: “If the gates were re-opened this would have a detriment to my business, an increase in drug use, homelessness and the passage being used as a permanent toilet.
“We are just seeing an increased tourist trade which we cannot afford to lose not only for my business but for the whole city.
“We strongly believe that St Peter’s Passage should remain gated.”
A statement from Lincoln BIG describes how in March attempts were made to remove the hinges for the gate and that access had been gained to the alleyway.
“When inspecting the area there were obvious signs of this area being used for anti-social behaviour. There were discarded needles, litter and other drug paraphernalia left on the floor,” said the report.
“When the lock was replaced the city centre wardens undertook a deep clean of the area and removed rubbish weeds, faeces and nine discarded needles.”
The statement said Lincoln BIG supported the continuation of the PSPO: “It has improved this area as it has removed the anti social behaviour, as shown by the amount of ASB occurring in the short time the area was accessed.”
Lincolnshire County Council has supported the renewal of the PSPO, but has indicated it would like to see the passageway reopened long-term.
It added it “does understand that at this present moment in time the anti-social and criminal behaviour experienced prior to the initial PSPO are likely to return.”
The officer’s report before councillors on Tuesday said officers were still waiting on plans for the House of Fraser, which include turning St Peter’s Passageway into a courtyard for a proposed new hotel on the site, to move forward.
“The Planning Team have advised me that there are still some conditions which need discharging and so we are unsure when that development may go ahead. It is hoped that any future development of that site may address St Peter’s Passage,” said the officers report.