In some other parts of Cardiff, a system of alley-gating has already been put in place. It's not cheap to do, and it can be very difficult to make sure that local residents use the gates properly. However, it has been responsible for a reduction in opportunist crime of the type that we have increasingly seen in Penylan. An academic study into the effects of alley-gating in Oldham was published in the European Journal of Criminology in 2009. This followed on from a similar study in 2007, results of which suggested that a similar scheme in Liverpool had impacted positively on the perception of crime and anti-social behaviour on an ongoing basis.
In Cardiff, over seventy lanes have now been gated, using powers under the Highways Act 1980. The Cardiff Council Strategy for Alley Gating Schemes includes consultation with local residents, local Councillors, emergency services (amongst others) and an assessment of any legal orders that are required. The current council seem to be following the same vein as the last, with an undertaking being given that the programme will not be affected by recently announced budget cuts.
The programme includes alleygating schemes throughout Cardiff, which have collected political support from local AMs and MPs. There is a strong and organised opposition to alley gating by those organisations supportive of maintaining public access to public spaces and open countryside. This has resulted in certain Cardiff based schemes being opposed, notably one in the east of Cardiff. There has also been criticism of some of the gates used, with one resident of Cowbridge Road East claiming to have found a design flaw which allowed several of the gates in his area to be opened without a key. In another area of central Cardiff, however, the local green group have used an alley gating scheme to transform the previously shabby Fox Lane into a far more welcoming - and lower crime - area.
From my perspective, I find the idea of stopping up historic rights of way something of an infringement of civil liberties. However, the facts speak for themselves. There is both a reduction in crime and the perception of crime, and as such is can - in certain situations - be justified. This is not to say that alley gating should be used as a universal panacea, because 'Silver Bullet' policies are something of an urban myth. Where the majority of those proximate with a valid reason for accessing the lane are in favour of the scheme, it stands to reason that alley gating should be implemented. In Penylan, there seems the be some strong opinion in favour of gating around Penylan Terrace as well as further down the hill around Kimberley Road. It would be interesting to know what proportion of residents are in favour, though.