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Skelmersdale residents in fight to save forbidden fence
22 September 2010

By David Simister

How The Champion covered a previous yob attack on Inchfield last year

Residents of a Skelmersdale street are battling against a borough council bid to bring down an unofficial fence protecting their homes from yobs.

Earlier this year a resident fed up with vandalism and antisocial behaviour from youths using a footpath into Inchfield put up a wooden fence to block it off to unwanted visitors, but despite garnering the support of the street's residents and West Lancashire's MP it has been earmarked for removal by the borough council because it blocks off part of its network of footpaths.

"We don't know who put up this fence but the vast majority of residents strongly support it being here, because before it was eing put up yobs were wandering into the street at night, being abusive and damaging property.

"It makes the area more secure but we're being treated like a group of naughty schoolchildren by the council because it wasn't done the official way," said George Maloret, one of the street's residents.

"From where we are standing, it feels like the council is coming down on us with a sledgehammer. It all seems very excessive."

The pathway, which leads towards the Concourse shopping centre, was blocked up by the fence earlier this year following a spate of vandalism incidents, including an attack on a nearby car showroom highlighted by The Champion last year.

The borough council wrote to householders in Inchfield in February warning them of its intention to remove the fence, which did not have planning permission, but after a series of objections by the residents the local authority allowed to submit a retrospective planning application for the fence, which was rejected by the council's planning officers in June.

A petition seen by The Champion reveals that all the households in Inchfield are in favour of the fence staying in place, but the borough council have now told residents they once again intend to remove it.

The group's campaign has also been given the support of West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper, who said she has previously made representations to the local authority over the matter.

"Residents feel the fence is necessary for their peace and wellbeing having experienced a series of incidents involving vandalism and public disorder. I made representations to West Lancashire Borough Council on their behalf to highlight the concerns of residents if the fence were removed," she said.

"Ultimately it is up to the council, as the planning authority, to make a decision on whether the residents get permission to keep the fence."

West Lancashire Borough Council were unable to comment before this week's edition went to press, but are expected to issue a statement later this week.

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