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Friday, 18 April 2014

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County council ‘treating Carlisle with contempt’ over Botchergate barriers - claim

A storm is brewing over proposals to get rid of the barriers that close Carlisle’s Botchergate to traffic on Friday and Saturday nights.

Elsie Martlew photo
Elsie Martlew

Labour city councillor Elsie Martlew has asked Cumbria County Council to remove the gates, which she says make Botchergate look like Belfast at the height of the troubles.

Her request is due to be considered today by a county highways and transport working group.

But Mrs Martlew claims the county council has not taken her seriously.

She said: “I went through the agenda papers with a fine-tooth comb.

“There is a 10-page report on traffic issues in Crosby-on-Eden and six pages on a bus stop in Currock.

“There is one line on Botchergate. All it says is, ‘A6, request to reconsider requirement for Botchergate night-time closure’.

“That is the county treating the city council with utter contempt.

“This is a serious issue. They should have researched it thoroughly.

“All I want is a full and detailed debate. Then I can accept the outcome, whatever that is.”

Mrs Martlew is a Labour councillor for the city-centre Castle ward.

She is also the city council’s environment portfolio holder and sits on the county’s highways working group as the city council representative.

Conservative John Mallinson, who chairs the working group, spent a Saturday evening in September observing behaviour in Botchergate with a view to reporting his findings at today’s meeting.

He said: “There was no intention to treat the city council with contempt, it was just a question of getting it on the agenda.

“Having seen the gates in operation and having spoken to police officers, door staff and the public, I am persuaded that the gates keep people safe.

“The atmosphere changes completely and becomes much more relaxed when the gates are closed.

“And I say that as one of the people rather sceptical about putting the gates there in the first place.”

The county council installed the gates in 2008 at the request of the police following a fatal accident.

Initially, they were closed from 9pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 5am the next day.

Thursday-night closures were dropped the following year but the Friday and Saturday closures continued.

Police reported that complaints about anti-social acts fell 16 per cent the year after the gates arrived.

But Mrs Martlew says they are “brutal” and give the impression that Botchergate is a no-go area.

She said: “They are ugly and they remind me of Belfast in the 1970s.”


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