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Crime-ridden Dane John Gardens in Canterbury to be mostly shut at night to tackle anti-social behaviour

By Gerry Warren

A crime-ridden city centre park will be mostly shut off at night as part of a trial to stop anti-social behaviour plaguing residents.

The measure involves installing gates at five of the eight entrances to the Dane John Gardens in Canterbury.

It was proposed by the council’s Canterbury Forum on Monday night, and supported by councillors.

The Dane John Gardens are a hotspot for crime
The Dane John Gardens are a hotspot for crime

If it gets the final nod by the Community Committee, temporary gates would be locked between 11pm and 4am for 12 months to discourage groups congregating and causing late-night disorder.

Forum members were told it was not possible to erect gates at all entrances, but agreed to see if the trial would have any impact.

The idea had been put to the council by the St Mildred’s Area Community Society (SMACS), whose chairman Dr Reg Race said residents are frequently disturbed in the early hours.

In recent years, there has also been drug dealing, robberies, serious assaults and even a manslaughter.

The Dane John Gardens taped off following a recent reported crime
The Dane John Gardens taped off following a recent reported crime

Dr Race said: “It would be big step forward because it’s a serious issue with residents suffering extreme noise and disturbance.It would just be for a trial period and I think we would know within a couple of months whether it was working.”

Council officers told the forum meeting it could cost £18,200 a year to implement, plus a further £8,000 for the temporary gates.

They also advised members that if the closure was made permanent, new gates would have to be made to reflect the heritage setting of the gardens.

But they said it might help in the council’s bid to regain Green Flag status for the gardens.

St Mildred's Area Community Society chairman Reg Race with the group's anti-social behaviour dossier
St Mildred's Area Community Society chairman Reg Race with the group's anti-social behaviour dossier

The city’s parks now have a dedicated warden which is said to have helped, but not in the evenings when she is not on duty.

The idea was backed by Cllr Simon Warley (Lab) who said he had received numerous complaints about anti-social behaviour in the gardens since becoming a city councillor, adding: “It’s only for a trial period so we will see if it’s a waste of time.”

Club Chemistry owner Louise Jones, who will part-fund the trial, questioned how effective it would be as the footbridge and Worthgate Place entrances to the gardens could not be sealed off.

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