Friday, 11 September 2015

Wilden Footpath No. 6 - part of our heritage

Wilden FP6
The proposal (see HERE) to divert part of Wilden Footpath No. 6 has been withdrawn. Sensibly, Bedford Borough Council now says “that a more comprehensive solution to this long-running problem would be in everyone’s best interests and the current proposal will not necessarily help bring that about.”

Bedford Borough Council will revisit research carried out by the former Bedfordshire County Council which led it to refute the Mayes Close residents’ assertion that the footpath, although on their land, was fenced out of the gardens.

Wilden Footpath No. 6 was recorded 165 years ago in the Wilden Inclosure Award 1850.

One other public footway (which we do hereby distinguish as No. 6) leading out of the Great Barford Road nearly opposite a Homestead of William Fuller and proceeding in a Southwesterly direction over Allotments to the Duke of Bedford and Mary the wife of Joseph Willis respectively on Midsummer Green to a stile in the Old Inclosure of the Duke of Bedford called Lammas Meadow …” And:

And we the said Commissioners have set out and appointed and by these presents do award and confirm the following Public Footways of the width of four feet each viz [continues Public Footways 1 etc.] …”.

The 1850 Award Plan shows the footpath running parallel to and south of the High Street and South Brook as it does now – except for the part which was diverted in 1974. The remaining section of the original path is in a poor condition and the section diverted to accommodate the development of Mayes Close, Wilden cannot be used nowadays.

The North Bedfordshire Heritage Trail - a 70-mile circular walk (see HERE) passes through Wilden but walkers have to follow the High Street instead of Footpath No. 6. Bedford Borough Council has designated this week 10-13 Sept 2015 as it's Heritage Week (see HERE). Swift action to bring Wilden Footpath No. 6 back into use would help demonstrate that the Council is as proud of our heritage as it claims to be.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Maulden Footpath No. 28

Maulden Footpath No. 28 - Southern end
(Click to enlarge the image)
Little did anyone know, that when a landowner fenced off his field in 1992, thereby obstructing a path in use by the public, he would be starting a dispute that would still be running twenty three years later.

The dispute (about whether or not there is a public right of way) has resulted in mounds of paperwork, numerous councils’ committee meetings, path orders, public  inquiries, magistrates’ court prosecutions and hearings, a legal appeal, recriminations and talk of common sense where “sense” is anything but common.
I wrote about the case HERE (26 Jun 14), HERE (6 Jul 14) and HERE (2 Sep 14).
And I am writing about it again now because there could be a new twist this month. Another (it will be the fifth) public inquiry is scheduled to start on 15 September; see HERE. Three days have been set aside for what is described as a non-statutory public inquiry – only the third of its kind I believe.
This thread of the saga began when the landowner, Mr Bowers of Maulden, made an application to Central Bedfordshire Council to have the footpath deleted from the definitive map and statement for the area but on 9 April 2013 the Council refused to make an order. Mr Bowers appealed to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs against the Council’s decision not to make an order. On September 2013, in what should have been the end of this thread, an Inspector, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, having considered the matters raised in written representations (as opposed to raised in person), dismissed the appeal – see HERE.
I understand that Mr Bowers then had his own court case to establish that he had the right to be heard in person for the appeal and that the Secretary of State conceded the point quashing the Inspector’s decision.

It seems inevitable that whatever the outcome of this month's public inquiry, the dispute will continue; this thread will not have played out and there is another waiting to be heard at the Magistrates' Court.