PROPOSALS to install a new set of lockable gates in Darwen to combat anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping have been shelved after a councillor said the alleys involved were 'too clean'.

Sudell’s Paul Browne questioned the need to seal off the back pathways behind Woodville Terrace, Portland Street, Maria Street, and Alfred Street after members of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s planning committee visited the site.

The scheme has been strongly championed by his Liberal Democrat colleagues David and Karimeh Foster as a means of keeping this part of their Whitehall ward clean and tidy and free from rubbish.

Coun Browne told the planning committee meeting considering the plan, previously authorised by the council’s executive board: “When we visited the site, I could not believe it. The alleys were too clean. I couldn’t even see a crisp packet.”

Committee chairman Jim Smith said the area was tidy, adding: “But I did see a crisp packet.”

Marsh House Labour councillor Tom Evans and Tory planning spokesman Alan Cottam also questioned the need for the costly scheme, especially in view of an objection from a resident who parked his car off one the alleys and possible changes to the borough’s rules for installing the gates.

Coun Evans said that new criteria for installing alleygates to deal with fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour were being brought in the New Year and the proposed scheme might be ruled out under them.

He proposed deferring the planning permission until they were introduced in the New Year so the plan could be judged again in the light of the new guidance.

Coun Cottam supported the proposal saying: “This application should be deferred. Spending £200,000 on alley gates if the guidance is going to be changed cannot be justified.”

The committee deferred a decision the application so the executive board could look again at it when the new rules were introduced.

Whitehall councillor David Foster said the reasons for installing alley gates were nothing to do with the planning committee.

He said: “The planning committee is there purely to decide whether the gates comply with planning regulations.

“I am appalled at the decision. The reason we wanted them was nothing to do with cleanliness. It was about preventing crime.”