Prospect Place row: The residents have their say

SIR - We are furious with Christopher Punt s and Philip Milton s insulting accusations in their letters last week. The residents who erected the gates are not the law breakers they publicly deduce. We have not taken the law into our own hands . There is

SIR - We are furious with Christopher Punt's and Philip Milton's insulting accusations in their letters last week.

The residents who erected the gates are not the law breakers they publicly deduce. We have not "taken the law into our own hands". There is no "wilful obstruction of a public highway". The gates are not "illegal" nor a "legal imposition". We have not "committed a criminal offence".

These apparently professional men have made judgements without exploring all sides of the story. You'd think they'd have the decency to make contact with us, to ask questions, to understand.

We are fed up with the ill informed views about the gate in the alleyway in Prospect Place. There have been problems down here for years, and yes, we did try to solve them by other means.

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The police have listened and together with the local school, they have patrolled the area at times. The alley and garage areas are private and so it is down to the residents to clean off the graffiti, pick up the dog mess and rubbish, replace smashed windows, fix vandalised gates, remove stuff that's been shoved down flues etc etc. Nobody does it for us, certainly not Mr Punt, Mr Milton or others like them who are so eager to have a public footpath here. How is that fair?

We've talked for a long time about installing a bigger gate and everywhere we turned for information and advice we were told the same thing: the alley is private property; is not a right of way, and we were entitled to do so. Even the County Council's Rights of Way Committee voted not to recognise it as a public right of way. So when the locked barrier at the end was vandalised we decided to replace it with a locked gate.

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The reaction has surprised us. The alleyway is dark and not overlooked; it has open drains along the edge. The roadway has potholes and is uneven. It has no pavement. It is so narrow in places that cars scrape the buildings and get too close to pedestrians, arguably not a "safe route to school", Mr Punt.

The reaction is even more surprising when you know that near to Prospect Place there are four much nicer, safer and legal footpaths that join Park Lane and Newport Road.

We did not intend to upset anyone, we just wanted to stop the unkind activities that were making our lives miserable. Since installing the gate the harassment we had from anti-social behaviour has gone, but is now woefully replaced by criticism from people like Punt and Milton.

Rob & Ruth Stradling,

Prospect Place.

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