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The Dane John Gardens during this year’s snow. Picture: John Hippisley

Council toying with radical plans to cut Dane John crime and noise

Canterbury’s showpiece Dane John Gardens could be closed at night under proposals being considered to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

Residents of the gardens and people living in the St Mildred’s area of the city have long complained that the gardens are magnet for troublemakers and a well-worn path for people moving between night time venues.

SMACS, the local residents’ group, is calling for all six entrances to the park to be closed to prevent anyone not living there getting in.

This is one of two action plans the council is considering. The other is to close the entrance at Watling Street opposite the bus station and the one in Watling Street car park with pedestrians diverted along the City Wall.

If either was implemented, it would be for one-year trial.

But the authority already appears to be leaning towards a third option: taking no action at all.

A report by transportation manager Richard Moore going before councillors next week says that closing all six gates would cost an estimated £12,400 per year plus £50,000 to create lockable gates.

Closing two would incur a yearly cost of £6,000 plus a £14,000 initial outlay.

Mr Moore said: “The council has an aspiration to obtain Green Flag status for the Dane John Gardens and measures to make the park more peaceful at night, thereby reducing the likelihood that residents will be disturbed by anti-social behaviour, may need to be implemented in order to help achieve this.

“Closing some entrances from the city centre into the gardens at night could help to reduce some noise problems, particularly directly outside residential properties next to the path through the park.

“However, without being able to close the bridge across the city wall, it is unlikely that closure of other gates would have enough impact to warrant a trial – given that the available route would be along the city wall at the park’s perimeter, which we have been advised by resisents as one of the sources of noise nuisance.

“On balance officers consider the cost of the trial to be disproportionate to the likelihood of success.”

The issue will be discussed at the council’s newly convened Canterbury Forum which meets for the first time in St Peter’s Methodist Church Hall, St Peter’s Street, at 7pm on Monday, September 1o.

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