AUTOMATIC barriers are set to return to a city centre car park “very soon” to combat antisocial behaviour.

The barriers at St Mary’s car park, in Balkerne Hill, Colchester, were removed in 2016.

In October last year, the Gazette revealed Colchester Council was exploring plans to reinstate them to tackle persistent antisocial behaviour, but this is yet to happen.

But now, an email from the council’s head of public protection seen by the Gazette reveals the authority expects the installation to happen “very soon”.

Gazette: Central - St Mary's car parkCentral - St Mary's car park (Image: Newsquest)

City centre councillor Steph Nissen had previously backed residents’ calls for the car park to be closed overnight to prevent “speed racers” from causing a nuisance.

It followed reports from residents living near the car park that motorists had been using the car park’s exit to enter the site after a move to block to entrance on Friday and Saturday nights.

Colchester Council has now ruled out closing the car park overnight.

But a spokesman for the council said: “We have noted a handful of complaints regarding predominantly non-vehicle related issues at St Mary’s car park.

“While a complete overnight closure wouldn’t address these concerns, it could potentially lead to new challenges.

“To enhance enforcement efforts, we’re taking steps to install automatic barriers and CCTV surveillance, which is a more holistic approach.”

The Gazette understands these items have been ordered but that a date for them to be installed is yet to be set.

What do residents think?

Emma Dell, secretary of the St Mary’s Residents’ Association, has welcomed the new measures and thinks “it should be enough” to curb the antisocial behaviour.

Gazette: Hopeful - Emma Dell, secretary of St Mary's Residents' AssociationHopeful - Emma Dell, secretary of St Mary's Residents' Association (Image: Emma Dell)

“We have to recognise this is a car park that’s central to Colchester’s entertainment and evening hub,” she said.

“We want children and everybody to feel safe coming to Colchester and enjoying the culture so you can’t get rid of these car parks but let’s make sure they’re safe and accessible.

“I believe if they get the security right more people will come to Colchester which will make it a better place.”

Concerns have previously been raised about blackspots in CCTV coverage at the car park. Earlier this month, the council said full coverage is “coming soon”.