A PLAN to partially close the Hog’s Back lay-by to curtail dogging activity at the Puttenham sex site was unanimously backed by councillors.

All members of Surrey County Council’s local committee for Guildford voted for the recommendation on Wednesday (March 9), to enthusiastic applause from a large audience.

The plans involve shutting a gate across the lay-by, preventing people from parking in it during the hours when the Hog’s Back Café is closed from 3pm to around 6am the next day.

However, despite the decision, councillor Tony Rooth warned that there was no guarantee that the Surrey County Council cabinet would agree, judging from their previous reaction.

The committee, which is made up of both borough and county councillors, voted unanimously last August in a specially-convened meeting to shut the lay-by completely.

However, the county council’s cabinet rejected the proposal, to huge disappointment from Puttenham residents and parents whose children go to the nearby primary school.

If the plan is approved, a barrier operated by the café owner would be placed at the entrance of the lay-by, although there would be no gate at the exit, allowing vehicles still inside to leave when they choose.

The total cost of setting up the lay-by barrier is £81,000, although Guildford neighbourhood inspector Tim Shaw said that this was not so much when compared with the amount spent on policing the area.

He said: “It costs £10,000 a year in patrolling but in terms of other hours we are spending, half a day a week, which has been going on for months and months, those costs will be considerably more.

“Any closure, whether a full or a partial one, will improve the situation there.

“The time of year is dependent on how busy the lay-by is, and we are now getting into the better weather so we are anticipating further problems.”

Cllr Fiona White said that she was concerned about how it would affect lorry drivers who have a legal requirement to stop for breaks from driving.

“I use the Hog’s Back very regularly, getting home from work,” she said. “Last night I drove along there and that lay-by was full of heavy goods vehicles.

“I can’t see anything in this report about what alternative provisions are being put in place for them.

“I’m not going to down play the very real distress it’s causing to the village but I’m also concerned about the numbers of people who are driving their lorries and have to comply with the law to earn a living.”

If approved, the closure plan could be put in place by the start of the new school year, in Septmber 2011.

“We can’t deal with it while the sun is out over the summer, but let’s hope that the new school year will open as the lay-by partially closes,” Cllr Rooth added.

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