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.

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