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Council refuses to close 'dogging' lay-by near Darlington
A COUNCIL has refused to close a notorious “dogging” lay-by despite pleas from the public, local councillors and police.
A lay-by close to The Swan House roundabout, near Darlington, has become notorious as a meeting point for "doggers" and "cruisers" - people who engage in voyeuristic sexual acts in public.
Despite a recent police crackdown, the lay-by continues to be used by thrill-seekers, with more than 80 warning letters sent to people caught in the area since August.
At a PACT (Police and Communities Together) meeting held in nearby Heighington last night (Wednesday September 25), local residents, backed by ward councillor Gerald Lee, called for the lay-by to be closed.
Coun. Lee said both he and representatives from Darlington Police had raised the issue with the local authority which is refusing to close the site, believing it would simply drive the problem elsewhere.
A spokeswoman from Darlington Borough Council said: “The council is aware of the problem and our highways officers have met with police and local ward councillors to look at ways to tackle the issue.
“This activity is not condoned in any way, the agreed approach is for the police to undertake enforcement and a recent joint meeting with police and ward councillors suggests this is having an impact with numerous enforcement letters already issued.
“There is a concern that closing the lay-by will simply move the problem somewhere else, which does not resolve the problem.
“The lay-by is used for legitimate reasons throughout the day and to close it may not necessarily resolve the problem.
“We continue to work with the police and ward councillors to monitor the situation with the aim of resolving the problem.”
Cllr Lee said: “From my point of view, it does not matter where they go.
“We should chase them through hell and high water like the proverbial cowboys until they disappear and realise what they are doing is unacceptable to society.”
Police will continue enforcement action in the area with regular patrols being carried out and warning letters being sent to anyone believed to be using the lay-by for sexual purposes.
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