Future of West Hampstead’s Billy Fury Way uncertain after complaints of drugs and human excrement
- Credit: � Nigel Sutton
The future of a troubled alleyway in West Hampstead that was transformed into an iconic tourist attraction for diehard fans of English singer Billy Fury is up in the air after proposals to close it off were floated by a local councillor.
Cllr Phil Rosenberg has asked residents for their views on what should be done with Billy Fury Way, which runs along the railway line between West End Lane and Lithos Road/Finchley Road.
In 2011, it was given a grand re-opening after a mural of Billy Fury - who recorded songs in nearby Decca Studios - was sprayed at its entrance to deter anti-social behaviour.
But after a recent meeting with Lithos Road Residents’ Association and the police, Cllr Rosenberg says complaints over the alleyway have continued.
He says it has become a “no-go area” for residents at night and is a hot-spot of fly-tipping, drinking and anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Rosenberg said a recent visit with Cllr Jonathan Simpson, cabinet member for community safety, saw them come face-to-face with the litter and dog-fouling problems, as well as what police confirmed was human excrement.
Cllr Rosenberg said: “It’s a bit of a problem space, for both police and residents.
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“One possibility could be to brick it up. Or we could bring in CCTV or light it better.
“But I’m looking to hear what residents want done. So far it’s been a mixed response and we have to bear in mind that money is tight.
“I started a residents’ survey with Lithos Road residents on Saturday.
“Whilst this is only just beginning, initial soundings are that though a relatively small number wanted it closed completely, there was a strong feeling about the need to improve it and make it feel safer, especially at night.
“This ranges from better lighting to closure at night time.
“One thing’s for sure, the mural has to stay.”
Police rejected claims the pathway has become a crime problem, or that it was being used as a getaway route for criminals as Cllr Rosenberg said he had heard from one officer.
Sgt Ian Hutton, of the West Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood’s Team, told the Ham&High: “From the point of crime, Billy Fury Way isn’t a problem.
“In the past six months there has been one incident, which involved reports of a homeless person sleeping at one end of the alleyway.
“I’m not sure where this idea that it’s a getaway route for criminals has come from either.
“From the information I have, I can’t recall an incident where it’s been used in this way.
“But there are problems with dog fouling and littering. There’s also been perhaps a small amount of anti-social behaviour with reports of people throwing empty cans onto the railway line.
“But from my point of view, and with the information I have, the police don’t see Billy Fury Way as a problem in terms of crime.”