Residents’ fury at ‘gate tax’ by city council

Teresa Crowden, Yvonne Cleal and Edward Cleal, are in dispute wiith Portsmouth City Council over land to the rear of their homes in West Leigh, Havant.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132206-364)

Teresa Crowden, Yvonne Cleal and Edward Cleal, are in dispute wiith Portsmouth City Council over land to the rear of their homes in West Leigh, Havant.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132206-364)

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A GREAT-GRANDFATHER says he has been driven to despair over a council’s demands for him to pay to use his back gate.

Edward Cleal and his wife Yvonne have lived in Lockerley Road, West Leigh, for 50 years.

But last month they, along with neighbours including Teresa Crowden, received a letter from Portsmouth City Council telling them they must pay £80 a year to use the back gate of their council house because the road behind is private.

The couple say they’ve never been asked to buy a licence to use the road before. They have two council garages they pay £72 a month to use in the private road.

Mrs Cleal said: ‘It’s unfair. It’s made my husband ill. We are not going to pay it. The gate only opens from the inside anyway so it’s not as if we use it all the time to get into our house. At first we thought it was a joke.’

Mr Cleal, 65, added: ‘It is a gate tax. I use it three times a year – twice when I have a big clear-out and load up the van to take it to the tip. The other time is in November when I buy a load of logs and drop them off for the winter for our log-burning stove.’

The council is reviewing the land it owns, including private roads, and checking to see if people need a licence to use it.

Beverley Murphy, project delivery manager for housing and property services at the council, said: ‘Recently we contacted the few residents who are using the garage site at Lockerley Road to gain access to the back of their properties, to check that they had the necessary licence, and that access was being used as per their agreements.

‘Land owned by the council is not part of the public highway, and we have to maintain it, so access across it requires permission and a licence.

‘We’ve had a friendly chat with residents, asking whether they want this access or if they are happy to close it off themselves, meaning no licence is required, and we would have no need to contact them moving forwards.

‘We have not threatened to close anyone’s gates, we have enquired if they still wish to use this back access, and have given them time to think this over.’

She said they have been asked to suggest when and how they can pay for the licence.

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