Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Open Spaces Society Needs You

Wymington FP5 - Unlawfully obstructed by Network Rail with Bedford Borough Council permission.
When a local authority makes a public path order to create, divert or extinguish a public right of way, anyone can object (oppose the order). Making a public path order is essentially a two-part process – making the order and then confirming it. If the order is opposed then the local authority cannot confirm it. The authority can abandon the order or forward it to the Secretary of State (DEFRA) who has the power to confirm an opposed order as it stands, confirm the order with amendments or to reject it.

The Secretary of State appoints an Inspector who takes into account the arguments for and against before making a decision. The objector has a right to be heard so a local public inquiry (a formal setting where evidence is heard and where witnesses are open to cross-examination) or a hearing (a discussion held by an Inspector - less formal, usually without formal cross-examination) may be convened. Alternatively, a decision may be made following an exchange of written representations.

I objected to the:

  • Stagsden Footpath No. 20 Diversion Order last year and Bedford Borough Council decided last month to abandon the order.

  • Maulden Footpath No. 28 Extinguishment Order last year. The case was heard last month at a public inquiry. The Inspector rejected the order.

  • Wyboston, Chawston & Colesden Footpath No. A11E Extinguishment Order last year. A public hearing is to be convened at Wyboston Parish Village Hall in October.

  • Kempston Urban Footpath No. 9 Diversion Order last year. The consideration of the Order is taking the form of an exchange of written statements and I have drafted my statement of case and comments for submission this month.

  • Sharnbrook Footpath No. 2 Rail Crossing Extinguishment Order last year. Bedford Borough Council and Network Rail agreed to my suggestion for works to improve the alternative route. I will withdraw my objection on completion of the works and the Council will confirm the order.

  • Wymington Footpaths Nos. 3, 4 & 5 and Podington Footpaths Nos. 6 & 27 Rail Crossing Diversion Order (me v “Counsel” for Bedford Borough Council and Network Rail!) and await news of how that case will be dealt with.

Bedford Borough Council is now consulting on a proposal to create and extinguish various paths in Willington and Cople. It seems to me that the proposals could be improved for the benefit of the public. I may have to object.

Anyone fancy joining the Open Spaces Society?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Maulden Footpath No. 28 - Post-public inquiry

Battered and unkempt but hanging in there. Footpath No. 28 could do with a bit of TLC.
Good News!
Central Bedfordshire Council’s Maulden Footpath No. 28 Extinguishment Order has been rejected by an independent inspector following the public inquiry last month.
The footpath, which leads to Maulden Wood and the Greensand Ridge Walk, survives - for the time being.
Central Bedfordshire Council made an application to Bedford Magistrates’ Court to close the path but the case was referred to Luton Magistrates’ Court (because the government is pursuing its own case for the eventual closure of the Bedford court). The case is scheduled to be heard on 9th, 10th and 11th September in Luton.
The Open Spaces Society considers this to be a further waste of public money, particularly when the council is so short-staffed and strapped for cash. The Society urges the Council HERE to abandon its plan to close this popular route and instead to accept that it should remain a public footpath, open for all to enjoy.
The Bedfordshire on Sunday newspaper reports HERE that a spokesman for Central Bedfordshire Council said that they are disappointed at the decision and they will now be considering its implications and their options for next steps.