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Rochdale Canal Towpath To Be Gated

Council, Police, Fire and canal authority want 12 hours closure

Written by . Published on July 15th 2014.


Rochdale Canal Towpath To Be Gated
 

THIS FROM the Council. More fences and gates.

Public rights of way are things we close at our peril. In the near future Library Walk will be closed for certain night hours now we have this proposal. 

‘Residents and businesses are being asked for their views on plans to place overnight barriers on a city centre canal towpath where members of the public have drowned.

‘The City Council is planning to install the gates, blocking off a stretch of the Rochdale Canal between Dale Street and Minshull Street known as the undercroft from 7pm-7am.

‘Three people have drowned in the canal there over the past two years, and robberies have also taken place at the location.’

Schemes such as brighter lights and CCTV are deemed to have failed. Other ideas are said to have been considered including ‘extra lifesaving equipment and chains which people can use to pull themselves out of the canal’. 

Because of the public right of way along the towpath here – one that’s been in place for over 200 years – the council along with the police, the fire service and the people who manage waterways such as the Rochdale Canal are arranging a ‘consultation’ about gating the area for 12 hours each day. 

Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority David Acton said: "Our crews attend more water incidents in Manchester City Centre than anywhere else in Greater Manchester. 

"Firefighters have attended incidents where people have drowned or suffered life changing injuries on this section of the Rochdale Canal. 

"These proposals will keep people safer in the city centre and give our crews a welcome respite from the often devastating circumstances they face when they rescue someone, or recover a body from this section of canal." 

David Baldacchino, waterway manager at the Canal & River Trust said: "We are committed to ensuring that the 200 year-old Rochdale Canal can be enjoyed safely by the local community and visitors. We are very concerned about the incidents on the Rochdale Canal and how they have worsened recently in this area. 

"Over the years we have tried a number of things to improve this part of the canal but without success. Working in partnership with the Council, Police, Fire and Rescue and others, we believe that we can only make a difference by taking more significant action and gating off this section overnight is the next step." 

Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester’s city centre spokesman, said: "This area has been the site of some very sad incidents in which people have been confronted by criminals, have ended up in the water and lost their lives. 

"We’re determined to make the area as safe as possible and, after working with other organisations to see what can be done, we’ve come to the conclusion that closing the undercroft at night is the only way to guarantee people’s safety. 

Given the clean sweep of interested authorities the consultation sounds like a rubber stamp affair. 

But despite that, sensible. 

Gating off the twilight world of the undercroft between Minshull Street and Dale Street might be the only solution. It can be horrible. This writer once took a tour of elderly ramblers for an urban stroll and disturbed a couple of men engaged in a sexual act. It was 2pm on a Thursday – consternation amongst the pensioners. 

But there is a caution too. 

Public rights of way are things we close at our peril. In the near future Library Walk will be closed for certain night hours – gated at one end, glassed in at the other – now we have this proposal. 

Putting fences and gates up across awkward city centre rights of way is not an enticing prospect. Balancing safety issues with long held liberties – in this case 210 years of access – is a difficult trick. We need to be on guard that authorities and public bodies and agencies don’t use closure of public rights of way as a short-cut to cost-cutting, that there is real need and watertight arguments in doing so.

Residents or businesses with initial comments on the plans are urged to send their views in writing to: Capital Programme Division, Growth and Neighbourhoods, FREEPOST MR1514, Town Hall, Manchester, M60 2BR

A formal consultation will be launched later in the year, with details published on:  www.manchester.gov.uk/consultations.

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72 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ShybaldbuddhistJuly 15th 2014.

If they have tried all other options then I don't see a problem with this. This is being gated for safety reasons. Library walk on the other hand is a total waste of money for no reason whatsoever.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

I agree. I am happy for this to close. It is dangerous down there at night and I hate naive wanderers risking themselves and the less naive getting hurt or exploited. Dominvs Hotel waterside cafe is the REAL REASON for this closure I believe! Let's get real, money talks! Nevertheless, though many of my friends disagree with me, I feel the murders, assaults, robberies down there means no-one should object to a night time closure. It's safer for everyone concerned. Yes, I am sure another area will become a new cruising ground and I hope risks are more minimized there, than they have been here. I will comment in agreement to this as safety is paramount and the area deserves a boost that this hotel and waterside cafe can bring. To compare it to the Library Walk waste monstrosity is absurd.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Members of the cottaging community have precious few places left to practice, especially after the modernisation of Victoria Station.

Ghostly TomJuly 15th 2014.

Amazing how many threads on her seem to link back to the closure of Library Walk and the loathed link. Apart from the council does anyone actually like it?

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Obviously overnight closures would not have protected your pensioners from that afternoon activity. Nights aren't always 12 hours long either, perhaps a dusk until dawn closure would have less impact on legitimate path users. I suppose a 7pm-7am closure is easier for shift workers and cheaper for their bosses. Are there chambers alongside the underground section of towpath, that could be reopened to provide a wider safer path away from the water?

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Pat Karney - tell you what, let's just build a steel ring round the city centre, close all the businesses and wrap the residents up in cotton wool. Try walking around your own constituency late at night.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Controversial indeed - I'm sure the debate in the Council Chamber is going to get very lively over this. Then again, considering Manchester Town Hall has no opposition councillors, probably not eh?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Beat me to it

JonathanJuly 15th 2014.

"cottaging community" like it's the RSPB or something!

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

It's a good thing it will be closed. People's safety should come first. Anyone who wants to have sex should get a room!!

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

How does people having sex down there effect public safety? People have been having sex down there for years - more often than not they're not people who identify with the mainstream LGB movement; they tend to be older, and their wishes and culture should be respected.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

'...and their wishes and culture should be respected.' Ha, have you heard you? Let's hug and hold hands too. After all we're all big one happy family where everybody should be respected and their wishes and cultures, no matter how f***ed up should be welcomed and encouraged. How absolutely enriched I feel right now! People that know about that place and go for sex are as messed up as you. What happened to the good old up against the wall technique?

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

"What happened to the good old up against the wall technique?" Who are you, James Anderton trying to take us back to the bad old days?

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

No I'm not James Anderton, silly. What's wrong with 'loving' your partner in an alleyway?

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Because people purposely go down down there to mug/hurt people. These people are picking on people cos they are gay. How many bodies have been found in the canal over the last couple of years. The council and GMP are getting grief off the public to do something.

GimboidJuly 15th 2014.

Amongst all the measures, have GMP actually tried policing the area properly and effectively enforcing the law? I'm not implying that they haven't, but the story doesn't really mention it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Doubt it, GMP are the worst in the country.

Peter N15July 15th 2014.

It has already become part of Manchester just as it has been part of every other urban settlement in the history of the world. It would be a shame if Manchester of all places were to show itself to be less tolerant than Berlin, London, San Francisco, Brighton and other gay conglomerations all of which wisely allow cruising to take place safely. Of course, there is nothing illegal about cruising and I don't see why gay men shouldn't have spaces where this takes place any less than heterosexuals. I'm sure there are plenty of places where heterosexuals have outdoor sex in the city and life goes on somehow.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Exactly - a blind eye is turned onto the goings on in Worsley Woods by the dogging community. Surely the cruising and cottaging community deserves to have their own space?

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Perhaps Gay Pride can raise money towards a designated area. Maybe block Library walk off at both ends. Pardon the pun.

Ghostly TomJuly 15th 2014.

...and yet another link back to the closure of Library Walk...

Obollox The GaulJuly 15th 2014.

It's not really 'yet another link' each time someone drops in a mention that's not really relevant to the story.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

The point is it's not safe. The amount of crime that goes on down there. There should be a safe place for people to go"

Ghostly TomJuly 16th 2014.

@obollox...if no one had mentioned Library Walk there wouldn't be a link but as some one has there is a link...and as it's the second comment on this thread that mentions it has become relevant to the story....simples...

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

It not about being homophobic. There should be a designated place people can go. That's another hot potato.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Yes...a clearly marked designated area with hazard tape and warning lights. Put it on Google Maps too and create an app showing opening and closing times. Pardon the pun. Maybe call it 'Hot Potato' too.

GimboidJuly 15th 2014.

Anon #1 - spin the situation round and consider how absurd you would think it would sound if someone suggested there should be a 'designated place' for straight people to go. Then think again about whether you might be being just a tiny but homophobic.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

If I feel the need for sex I don't go looking down dodgy tow paths and put myself in danger.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

There already is - it's called the Canal, but meddling councillors want to block it off.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

I know, turn Piccadilly Gardens into a designated cruising, cottaging and dogging area. Rotate the nights for each 'community', leave the 'Berlin Wall' up for knee tremblers and have a 'community' mash up night on Saturdays. What do you think?

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

Why is wanting people to be safe homophobic? I agree people should have somewhere safe to go. Not go somewhere they can beaten up, mugged or worse. Until recently I didn't know what the area was used for. What about the innocent people who go down there.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

Won't Someone Think Of The Children?

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

What are children doing down there? Why aren't they at home with their parents?

Kevin PeelJuly 16th 2014.

This is a sensible proposal which we have been pushing for two years. Residents in the vicinity regularly report crime and anti-social behaviour in this area and as someone who lives opposite the canal basin who can see the entrance to the undercroft from my window I can see it myself. This measure isn't about targeting anybody or closing a public right of way, it's about saving lives.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

"local residents" - again - how about before people buy apartments in the middle of England's Second City, they consider they're not buying a detached house in the leafy suburbs of Cheadle Hulme. The undercroft and the community who use it have been there LONG since the fancy flats. This is an edgy city, and one where all aspects of gay culture shouldn't be suppressed - this isn't Cheltenham. Sanitising the city and wrapping its citizens up in cotton wool should be low on the priorities of the council.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

Cllr peel this is the first thing I've agreed with you on. Wonders never cease!!

AdamJuly 16th 2014.

Me too, I actually agree. Though I am an 'infamous' hater as hope for freedom of speech in criticising and expressing my view there's a lot I will not agree on. Dominvs Hotel seems the REAL reason though. But in terms of agreement, this is rare occurrence indeed. Democracy!

rinkydinkJuly 16th 2014.

Its about the hotel, let's face it

AnonymousJuly 17th 2014.

Really? I thought it was about nobs and bottoms TBH.

Kevin PeelJuly 16th 2014.

Anon I'm not sure that robbery, assault and murder are aspects of gay culture but they occur on the undercroft and will be stopped.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

Could these things not be stopped by better lighting, cctv coverage and police patrols? There is more than one way to improve safety. To once again drag up the Library Walk fiasco, safety was the quoted reason for closing that.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

Nobody had the budget to constantly pay for this.

Kevin PeelJuly 17th 2014.

The area already has better lighting, CCTV and regular police patrols. Short of 24 hour security there is no other option. I don't know what the hotel is people are talking about but I'm not aware of any hotels being involved in the discussions other than the current consultation with nearby businesses. I did not support closing Library Walk and spoke on behalf of residents at the hearing.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

'Origin' would make an ideal cruising and cottaging site. Them types would feel safe there and, you could watch the proceedings from Manto's balcony. What do you think?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

There should be a safe place where people can go. Ie a converted room in one the village premises. The council would never agree to it.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

I think there should be a safe place for straight people to go for a quickie. Especially for those that met for the first time that night.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

As a gay woman. I agree with the tow path being gated off at night. It will put a stop to the crime that goes on down there. The area is disgusting its seedy used as a toilet and people are vulnerable. Nothing but good can come of it. I don't understand peoples mentally by wanting it to stay open.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

What has "being a gay woman" got to do with it? By the way, it will not put a stop to the crime that goes on down there, it will displace it to another area. As a straight man (irrelevant as that is), I may at some time want to use this route. I will be denied access to a 200 year old right of way, because those in power can not be ar**d to make proper provision of lighting in the area, or provide cctv and police patrols. You think it's seedy? Have you any idea what goes on in other areas of the city frequented by female prostitutes, their pimps, drug addicts and the like? Just as seedy in my opinion.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

Because other people have been accused of being homophobic for agreeing to the closure. In the past there has been CCTV, lighting etc they just get broken.

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

In more enlightened places (ie mainland Europe), these cruising / dogging areas are informally designated, tolerated and sensitively policed. All types use them, gay / straight / bi / trans. BUT you will not find them in the middle of a city. They are usually to be found in areas of open land near motorway junctions. This seems to me to be the right approach.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

I meant unpopulated, but still accessible, wooded areas outside urbanised areas rather than open land

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

Maybe everyone regardless of sexuality should just a room!!

AnonymousJuly 17th 2014.

Well I live near a motorway junction and I wouldn't want such seedy behaviour going on near me. It'll be a used Johnny littered wood in no time. I feel for the wild life.

Obollox The GaulJuly 17th 2014.

"I feel for the wild life" - you should keep your hands to yourself mate.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2014.

Great post, and I agree to an extent - the Vondelpark in Amsterdam is used for that very purpose by all kinds of people after dark. Places like Sale Water Park and Worsley Woods, though are only accessible to those with motor transport, and aren't unfortunately policed with sensitivity. The canal, and what goes on there is part of Manchester's LGB heritage, and it's a shame that the gay councillors in the City Centre aren't throwing their weight in favour of a more enlightened approach. The canal will just be like the cottage at Stephenson Square, and the Twisted Wheel - just a piece of history because of a vain and inglorious council unfitting of the city it "serves"

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Kevin PeelJuly 17th 2014.

Sorry that as the 'gay councillor in the city centre' who you're referring to I cannot support robbery, assault and murder. I guess I'm just a party pooper...

AnonymousJuly 17th 2014.

With Kevin on this one and that doesn't happen often. 'Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it'....this does need to be closed.

AnonymousJuly 17th 2014.

'policed with sensitivity'? Please explain, and in great detail.

JoanJuly 17th 2014.

Totally in agreement with Kevin. Have people forgotten the cries of 'not another!' after recent canal deaths?

Steve5839July 25th 2014.

Can i just not jump in to the canal off the tow path, the adjacent bridge? Lets cut out the nonsense and have the people proposing the closure really say what they are endeavouring to achieve. I doubt they will.

Marc WilliamsAugust 25th 2014.

Even if the pathway closes the activity will just move further down the canal to more secluded areas by the retail park, more dangerous and more remote. Moving a problem along the canal does not solve it.

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