Many of the alleyways crisscrossing West Bletchley in Milton Keynes are in such a poor state that they should be closed, a councillor has announced.
The labyrinth of alleys runs behind houses, linking up to old garage sites and providing short cuts between closes and main roads and schools.
But many are poorly maintained, overgrown, full of rubbish, or blocked off,said Labour councillor Mick Legg.
Others even provide unseen escape routes for burglars, he said.
“I have been working with residents who have raised concerns about the cleanliness and upkeep of some alleyways. Many are in a poor state and clearly are never cleaned,” he added.
Councillor Legg is calling for MK Council to conduct an audit of all the alleyways and to consider how best to maintain them.
“In some cases they should maybe consider closing them,” he said. “If alleyways are to remain open, they need to be cleaned on a regular basis. I think some need closing, some need ‘exit only’ gates. But overall an audit would set out what needs to be done with each one.”
However, the ownership of the alleyways is a difficult issue.
Some are clearly public alleyways, others are on land owned by the council’s housing department.
This confusion over ownership is a principle reason why most are not properly cleaned or maintained.
Cabinet member for housing, Councillor Nigel Long said: “My colleague Councillor Legg knows many of the alleyways and he is right to say the Council appears to have lost track of them and this is leading to problems of cleaning and safety.”
He added: “I have asked Housing Officers to do an audit of the alleyways. Then we need to agree action on each one.”