Fortress Ashby Mews

The gates go in
Recently, a metal gate appeared without warning across the northern entrance to Ashby Mews.

This entrance to the mews has been cursed by constant fly-tipping over the years and the gates are a defense measure installed by residents.

I bow to no-one in my hatred for rubbish and fly-tipping and I can imagine how infuriating it must be to live with it year-after-year. Just walking past it regularly made me angry. I have also been on the receiving end of residents' exasperation - despite living nearby, I was once challenged while on a walk to state my business by one neighbour who suspected me of being a fly-tipper (though where about my person he thought I was stashing my load was unclear).

But Brockley's mews are a community asset and this was done without public consultation, nor reference to the Brockley Society, who are guardians of the conservation area. Some residents with rear-garden access to the mews say they were unaware of the plans. Rumours abound about when and how often pedestrian access will be available.

Restricting pedestrian access is a draconian measure to combat rubbish usually dumped by the van-load. It runs contrary to the communitarian spirit of Brockley or the stated intentions of the developers who have built homes in the mews. The gates are divisive in more ways than one: From the moment they were thrown up, I received emails from concerned locals who wished not to be named for fear of being dragged into a spat.

The Council and the police should have acted long ago to deal seriously with fly-tipping at this spot. There should have been a plan of action that dealt with the problem and stopped residents feeling the need to take matters into their own hands. But the plan should have been developed with the community. It’s a shame to have shut them out.