RESIDENTS wanting their back alleys gated have been told there is no point applying to Blackburn with Darwen council as the cash has run out.

Borough housing boss Yusuf Jan-Virmani revealed that the number of applications far exceeded the £100,000 budget for the popular scheme so it had been closed to new requests.

Tory group Leader Mike Lee responded to the news, delivered to Thursday’s executive board, by demanding an increase the money available to seal off back streets.

Coun Jan-Virmani was discussing the three latest applications for alley-gating from the six-year-old scheme brought in by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition in 2008.

It originally had a budget of £100,000 increased to £200,000 before they lost control in 2010.

Coun Jan-Virmani confirmed the borough had received 70 new applications to seal off back streets since April 1 but there is only enough cash in the budget for the financial year to pay for 20.

The scheme has proved a success in tackling fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and crime.

Coun Jan-Virmani said: “We cannot accept any more applications.

“I will be bringing an item to executive board closing the scheme for 2014/2015.

“It has been very successful and I hope it can be continued next year, but we need to look at other causes of the behaviour it deals with.

“There is no point in accepting any more applications this financial year as there is no money in the budget even if they meet the criteria.”

Coun Lee said: “They should promptly increase the budget back to £200,000.

“This is a very popular and cost effective scheme.

“Labour’s finance boss Andy Kay promised to scrap the scheme when they won back power in 2010.

“He is now trying to do this through the back door.”

Coun Kay said: “We did not say we would scrap the scheme.

“There is a budget of £100,000 for it. We are trying to live within our means as every council has to.”

The three petitions, which were all declined, are from residents in Downham Street on the Audley/Queen’s Park border, Winmarleigh Street, Audley Range, and Coniston Road, Little Harwood.