THE New Year has brought peace on earth to a tiny corner of Barnstaple that has been blighted by years of anti-social behaviour. Residents and businesses of Bedford Row have been celebrating a victory, after iron gates were installed at both ends of their

THE New Year has brought peace on earth to a tiny corner of Barnstaple that has been blighted by years of anti-social behaviour.Residents and businesses of Bedford Row have been celebrating a victory, after iron gates were installed at both ends of their street to help prevent it being used as a shortcut by late night revellers, or as a haven for drug addicts.The gates will now be locked from 7pm to 7am each day, and keys have been provided to those needing access.The small passageway between Boutport Street and Queen Street is thought to be the first in Devon to benefit from new Government legislation introduced in April 2006, that enables residents to apply to restrict access to a public right of way."In the past, any application for an order to extinguish a right of way would not succeed if it received just one single objection," North Devon MP Nick Harvey told the Gazette."Now, if residents can prove that their quality of life is being affected, it is possible to apply to withdraw a right of way."To my knowledge, this is the first time this has happened in Devon." Police architectural liaison officer John Knowles first filed a report on the problems at Bedford Row seven years ago. He helped a residents' group to set up a police log of incidents, and with advice from Mr Harvey on the change in legislation, the group worked with Safer North Devon, Barnstaple Town Council, Devon County Council and charity Peace of Mind to secure the £3,000 needed to buy and install the gates."This is the best Christmas present we could have ever hoped for," said Bedford Row Residents' Association chairman Louise Horton."As a group of 15 residents and businesses, we have been campaigning to restrict the right of way for about three years."For a town centre street, it is very quiet in the day. But in the evenings, it can be a nightmare, with people fighting, urinating, vomiting, spraying graffiti, using needles and having sex."The installation of these new gates has made our New Year," added Mrs Horton, who said she was now looking forward to being able to remove the bars on her windows."We couldn't ask for better - this will make such a difference to us.