Saturday, 8 March 2014

Wymington Footpath No. 5 - Update

Network Rail erected barriers on Wymington Footpath No. 5 to prevent the public from using the path. See blog posts 13 January, 5 February - and 17 February where I explained that I had served notice on Bedford Borough Council to secure the removal of the obstructions.

The council has the power (Highways Act 1980, section 143) to require the removal from a highway of any structure which has been set up other than under statutory powers. The procedure is simple. The council serves notice on the person having control of or possession of the structure(s). If the structures are not removed then the council may itself remove them and recover the reasonable expenses in doing so. There is no requirement to give a second warning but the council is not allowed to remove any structure until a month after the notice has been served.

Bedford Borough Council has informed me that it has served notice on Network Rail. See S130(A) FORM 3.

That’s a council step in the right direction. Possibly the first time the council has taken such a step.

Will Network Rail oblige and open the path? What will the council do if it doesn't?

Network Rail is considering posting an employee on site (on arable land in the countryside) to temporarily remove the barriers and to escort members of the public over the railway lines when walkers arrive on site, and when Network Rail’s Control Centre in Derby gives permission. I suspect that the sentry will encourage members of the public to use another route where they will unknowingly trespass on private land, and commit a criminal offence by walking along part of a footpath that has been temporarily closed under the terms of the Road Traffic Regulation Act.

On its website, Network Rail states “We own and operate Britain’s rail infrastructure.” They seem to be acting as if they own and operate public rights of way as well.


  1. Let's hope the council continue to serve notices where appropriate. I wonder how much of this is as a direct result of your action?!?

  2. Indeed. And swift council action to remove obstructions if a notice is ignored.