Hopes mount for walkers

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 December 2010

Archant

HOPES are mounting for walkers in Portishead who have been campaigning to protect a popular footpath.

Walkers launched a battle to safeguard the future of the well-used route after access to part of it was blocked in 2008.

For over 50 years, fields across Portishead Downs and beyond, leading to Valley Road and Weston Big Wood have been used by walkers and runners.

The footpaths were used unchallenged until an area of the land was sold off in 2007.

Shortly after, the two new landowners, one of which is the police authority, fenced off their land preventing anyone from using it.

A public outcry resulted in the police authority installing two kissing gates to allow access, but these now have signs on them advising there is no public right of way.

Scores of walkers formally protested, formed an action group and made an application to make the route a public right of way.

Protester Phil Hedley said: “We made an application to make this pathway a public right of way to ensure it is accessible to everyone for generations to come. Being aware that applications like this can take years, we then made a successful request earlier this year asking for the application to be taken out of sequence and subsequently it has been brought forward.”

At a November meeting of the North Somerset Council public rights of way sub-committee last month it was recommended to make the route a public right of way if no new objections were raised.

If objections are received the matter will be forwarded to the Secretary of State.

Avon and Somerset police met with campaigners to offer a right of way on the field. A Police Authority spokesperson said: “We have offered the walkers a public right of way around the southern edge of the site.

“They are pursuing a route along our boundary line, which would severely limit the future use of the field and de-value the land.

“We were hopeful of the alternative route and were disappointed it was not accepted, as it would have finally given the walkers a legal right of way.”


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