A new public space protection order (PSPO) will come into force on Monday 24 April 2017 on a section of canal in Manchester city centre.
The PSPO will effect a part of the Rochdale Canal, between Dale Street and Minshull Street, known as the ‘Undercroft’ – preventing access from 10pm-7am.
The order is being introduced following a number of tragic incidents in the area over the last few years, the worst of which have seen people drown.
In measures designed to protect the public, gates have been installed at each end of the towpath and will be closed during the hours of the PSPO. The new order means anyone who still persists in gaining access could now be fined up to £100 and face a court summons.
Other measures to make the area safer, such as installing CCTV and brighter lighting, have all been introduced without success – necessitating the order.
Access for boating will continue but use of the towpath for walking through will be prevented.
Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council city centre spokesman, said: “This area has been the site of some very sad incidents in which people have been targeted by criminal elements and some have unfortunately lost their lives.
“We’re determined to make the area as safe as possible. After working with partners in Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, the Canal and River Trust and consulting with businesses and canal users, we believe that the area will be improved by this Public Space Protection Order.
“The majority of incidents have taken place at night between 10pm and 7am – which is reflected in the times the towpath will be closed. The path will remain open and accessible outside of the proscribed hours.”
“During the night time hours of closure the public can use a well-lit alternative route at street level with no additional distance to travel.”
Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin, Greater Manchester Police. said: “This section of Rochdale Canal in Manchester city centre has been the site of antisocial behaviour and criminal offences for several years.
“The introduction of a Public Space Protection Order will discourage antisocial behaviour as it is now an offence to be in that specific part of Rochdale Canal between 10pm and 7am, this will be further helped by the area being locked during these hours.
“The partnership has tried various solutions in the past but we hope that this Public Space Protection Order will help to put a stop to criminal activity in this area and keep our community safe.”
Station Manager at Manchester Central Community Fire Station, David Wilson, said: “We strongly advise people to plan a safe route home at night, and the closing of this stretch of the canal at night will help with this.
“Manchester city centre has some wonderful waterside areas for people to visit and enjoy but the dangers of entering water cannot be overstated, with many people who drown in waterways being under the influence of alcohol.
“We work closely with partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors to reduce water related injuries and deaths.”
David Baldacchino, Canal & River Trust local waterway manager, added: “We never like to close off any section of canal without good cause. This closure will only be overnight and will hopefully help to make the Undercroft area safer for everyone.”