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Police ramp up patrols around city cemetery after re-opening of gate leads to increased reports of anti-social behaviour

PUBLISHED: 18:00 25 July 2018

Police have ramped up patrols around Earlham Cemetery following increased reports of anti-social behaviour. Photo: Steve Adams

Police have ramped up patrols around Earlham Cemetery following increased reports of anti-social behaviour. Photo: Steve Adams

Police patrols have been ramped up around a Norwich cemetery, after the re-opening of a pedestrian gate led to reports of increasing anti-social behaviour in the area.

Jeremy Bartlett secretery of Friends of Earlham Cemetery - pictured in 2013. Photo: Bill SmithJeremy Bartlett secretery of Friends of Earlham Cemetery - pictured in 2013. Photo: Bill Smith

The gate to Earlham Cemetery at the end of St Thomas Road was re-opened by Norwich City Council last year, having been closed to the public for more than 20 years.

Since, people living in the area have expressed growing fears that this has led to an increase in anti-social behaviour around the gate - particularly drug dealing.

Norfolk Police confirmed it had ramped up patrols in the area in response to a growing number of complaints from members of the public.

And at a meeting of Norwich City Council’s full council on Tuesday, members were asked four separate questions from people living nearby, all expressing their fears.

Green Party city councillor Denise Carlo. Photo: Denise Bradley;Green Party city councillor Denise Carlo. Photo: Denise Bradley;

Among the concerns raised were that drug dealers were using the area and dog walkers were taking their pets into the cemetery through the gate - despite them being banned from the site.

The council re-opened the gates in November 2017 but it was claimed residents, ward councillors and the Friends of Earlham Cemetery were not consulted.

Jeremy Bartlett, secretary of the Friends, said: “The gate was historically kept shut, but several years ago it was opened, which led to a problem with anti-social behaviour so it was closed again.

“Had we been consulted, we would have been able to make the city council aware of this, as well as raising any concerns we had.”

Mr Bartlett said group members had first made their fears known at the Friends’ annual general meeting in February and they had been in regular contact with the council since.

He said: “We are on the council’s side and want to work together with them to make sure the cemetery is put to its best use.

“We are not entirely against the gate being open, but we want to make sure that if it is not closed, as much as possible is being done to address the concerns.

“I still think the cemetery is a lovely place to be, but the gate hasn’t helped. For example, we have began to notice dog mess in the cemetery, despite dogs not being allowed on the site.”

Denise Carlo, a Green Party city councillor for the Nelson ward - which St Thomas Road falls into - said she was not consulted before the decision either.

She said: “I am really annoyed the residents were not consulted about re-opening the gate. It has become an incredibly heated issue for people living on the road. I am also concerned that I was not consulted either, as one of the ward councillors.”

Ms Carlo said she had received several complaints from people living in her ward around anti-social behaviour in the area, along with feedback from members of the public desperate for the gate to be closed once more.

However, a spokesman for Norwich City Council said no consultation was required, as the gate is an historic access point to a listed cemetery.

As well as concerns about drug activity in the cemetery, the members of the public who attended the council meeting said they had witnessed dogs chasing other animals, including peoples’ pets and fox cubs which live in wooded parts of the site.

A city council spokesman said: “Since the gates re-opened we have not received any formal complaints of anti-social behaviour in the area. The police are responsible for issues relating to drug abuse.

“Since the opening of the gate, the police have not contacted the council in respect of any drug issues in the area.

“The gate was reopened to increase access to the site, giving greater opportunity for more people to visit.

“There were a number of questions asked on this topic, all of which were given a full and honest response by the relevant cabinet member.”

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