COUNCIL bosses have successfully applied for powers which will enable them to close alleyways in areas where they pose a crime risk.
The plan was announced by local environment quality minister Alun Michael as part of a Government bid to cut crime throughout the UK.
Halton was one of only 11 authorities to provide sufficient evidence to the Government that closing rights of way in certain areas would help to reduce opportunities to criminals.
Applications were made by 15 local authorities for 78 areas to be considered, supported by evidence from police and community groups.
Mr Michael said: 'For many people living in areas of Halton blighted by crime and vandalism, this is very good news.
'These alleyways have given burglars easy access to the back of houses or provided an easy escape from police.
'In other places they have become sheltered havens for drug dealers or have become an easy target for vandals.
'The evidence we have viewed in the applications has demonstrated to us that residents and neighbourhood groups in Halton feel very strongly that these rights of way have become a serious detriment to their communities.
'At the same time, they no longer serve the purposes for which they were designed many decades ago, such as providing an access point for people collecting trash.
'But we have been stringent in setting criteria to close rights of way. Local authorities have needed to provide strong evidence that real problems exist in these areas and that other means of crime prevention have failed.
'We have designed the system to avoid the risk that important rights of way might be need-lessly affected.'
The rights of way the council plans to close are all in Widnes town centre.
Cllr Stan Hill, Halton council's executive board member with responsibility for community safety, said: 'The designation of these parts of Widnes is the first step in enabling the authority to close off certain rights of way where crime and anti-social behaviour are currently blighting residents' lives.
'This power will hopefully help all the agencies involved to make the areas safer environments.'
Supt Clive Pownall, divisional commander for Halton, said: 'By reducing the potential for opportunistic crime, we can improve the feeling of safety in the community.'