Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s previous campaign used the slogan “Get Closer, Support the Force” – but this may become harder in Ely with the construction of a fence surrounding its police station and adjoining land.
The wooden structure has been causing of-fence amongst local residents – but police say it will prevent injury and preserve the area.
This week Ely resident Ben Gibbs contacted Spotted in Ely to express his disbelief at the latest addition to Nutholt Lane.
“Just a quick question for Ely Police. What was the thinking – if indeed there was any – behind the decision to fence off the lovely little park/lawn next to the station? How mean?
“Are you actually allowed to do that? It’s not private land, is it?
“Can the public now not have access to the Scouts’ plantation, or allow their kids to enjoy the green space, at a safe distance from the incessant traffic? Why not?”
Mr Gibbs accused the police of making the crossing by East Cambridgeshire District Council dangerous.
“Parents like me have always encouraged their kids to stand back from the narrow pavement whilst waiting for the green man, as cars always turn onto Nutholt Lane at pace, and sometimes (having gone through a red) even after the green-man is lit. But now there’s no safe distance. Good thinking!
“Where’s the bench gone? Are you going to remove the bin too?
“Are you aware of the symbolism of distancing yourself like this from the people that need you to be visible and close? And what about the street signs – and a crossing post – you’ve rather arrogantly fenced off? Are you actually allowed to do that?
“I’m not sure I’d get away with it if I claimed public land and signage like that? Did you not need planning permission? How much public money did it cost, and if you do have to revise it so the public can see the road signs and have a bit of its grass back, how much more will that cost?”
A number of teachers have also voiced their concerns, saying they used the grassy area to safely take children into town for school trips.
The traffic crossing box is in the fenced off area, meaning that people in wheelchairs and scooters may struggle to access it. Visually impaired people may also have difficulties locating it now.
The building of the fence has invoked an angry response from local residents, with many leaving negative feedback. The fence has been described as “disgraceful”, “awful” and a “monstrosity”.
However, Cambridgeshire Constabulary say it’s necessary to prevent injury and protect the area.
A spokeswoman told Spotted in Ely today: “Following complaints from members of the public who walked across the land and tripped on exposed tree roots the decision was made to fence off the area to prevent injury and in the interests of public safety.
“This was a last resort following attempts to cover the exposed roots, as the trees cannot be removed as they are in a conservation area.”
The land belongs to Cambridgeshire Constabulary, meaning the force would also be liable if a member of the public harmed themselves while walking over the area, she added.
“Additionally dog owners were allowing their pets to foul the area including urinating in the Holly and Jessica Memorial Rose Garden, causing substantial damage to the plants which have had to be replaced.
“Contractors who installed the fencing were instructed to ensure that the traffic lights and sign were not fenced in and we will be ensuring this is rectified.”