TROUBLED residents have been given fresh hope in their bid to have an alleyway near their homes closed at night.

Councillors have vowed to take a hard line against those lanes in York that contribute to crime or antisocial behaviour.

As reported in The Press earlier this week, residents living around St Helen's Road and Mayfield Grove want an alley behind Dringhouses Primary School closed at night, because, they say, it attracts trouble-makers, vandals and criminals.

A council officer had recommended nothing be done at present, pending a new alleygating policy document.

But members of the council's city strategy panel have now asked officers to return to the issue, and draw up a practical option for closing the alley after nightfall.

Ann Reid, executive member for city strategy, said: "The Liberal Democrats are in favour of closing snickets and alleyways where it can be shown that leaving them open leads top crime or disorder.

"In this case, it seems clear that residents have real concerns and I have therefore urged officers to look again at the issue. If gating this snicket after dark will cut crime then it is something the council should try to do."

City of York Council leader Steve Galloway said: "We do believe that gating of snickets in urban areas does have a role to play against crime."

He added: "The petitioners might have hoped we would be able to make a decision at our meeting. Our failure to do so is only because we need a consistent policy. It cannot be a case of giving a key and saying get on with it'. It has to be much more professional than that."

Mayfield Grove resident Colin Rennison, who organised the petition, welcomed the council's stance.

He said: "That snicket is a direct get-away. It's good news."

Mr Rennison said that within two hours of speaking to The Press for the initial story, a woman had her bike stolen from near the alley.

In the report to councillors, alleygating officer Stephen Bushby wrote: "There is no doubt that this area has suffered from increased levels of crime and antisocial behaviour between the years 2004/05 and 2005/06 and, as they appear to occur later in the day, the making of a Conditional Gating Order to close the snicket at night would be likely to reduce crime in the area."