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Thieves force riverside walkway closure

Date: 16/07/2008           Category: Medway Renaissance

Two thefts of steel posts and handrail worth £200,000 have forced the closure of the popular Rochester Riverside walkway and cycle path just five weeks after it opened. Early on Monday morning 82 posts and 200 handrails were unbolted, loaded into a vehicle and driven away by thieves who forced open security gates in Furrells Road. This has left a 140 metre gap in the handrail that was installed along the mile-long riverside walkway. Medway Council and South East England Development Agency (Seeda) – project partners on Rochester Riverside – have closed the site until further notice. This was the second £100,000 theft in a week. On Tuesday, 8 July, 100 posts and 148 handrails awaiting installation were stolen by thieves who broke open security gates at Gas House Lane. After that first theft, security was immediately stepped up. This included a round-the-clock security presence. Cllr Jane Chitty, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Economic Growth, said: “This is a very sad case of the few spoiling it for the many. The walkway was proving very popular. In the interests of public safety, we have no choice but to close it while we carry out a further review of security.” The mile-long walkway and cycle path opened on Friday, 6 June. The plan was to allow full public access until Crest Nicholson and green living specialists BioRegional Quintain start work on 600 homes – the first phase of development.