Public inquiry set to look at 'blocked' public footpath


Sarah Staples

A FOOTPATH across fields near Ellesmere that has been blocked for over a decade is to be discussed at a public inquiry later this month.
The footpath, which connects Blakemere with nearby Whitemere at Spun Hill, has been shut since 2001 following the foot and mouth epidemic.
Now a public inquiry will be held at Welshampton Village Hall on January 22 at 10am.
Local walker Alison Parker, a member of the Ramblers Association, requested a Right of Way for the path several years ago but was challenged by the landowner, who claims the pathway was never public in the first place.
The 80-year-old said: “As a member of the Oswestry Ramblers Association it was a walk that was repeated regularly.

“But in 2000 the Rights of Way in Shropshire were shut because of foot and mouth and the path was never reopened.
“In 2004 I went to check on it and there were signs saying ‘keep out’ and barbed wire to stop us getting in.”
Alison, who moved to Ellesmere over 20 years ago, said the pathway has been walked by many people in the town who used it with their parents.
“It’s a very nice walk and if you want to walk from here in Ellesmere you don’t have to walk all the way down to Spun Hill, which can be quite busy.
“It has been walked by local people for many years and I don’t know what happened to change attitudes,” she added.
Shropshire Council is involved in the inquiry and Welshampton and Lyneal Parish Council also expressed an interest in the footpath in the time running up to the inquiry.
Alison added: “Maps of the area show it was a Right of Way in the 1700s which gives historical evidence that the path existed. Natural England also did a survey some years ago of lost paths and they found that this was one.”
Lucy McFarlane, Rights of Way officer from Shropshire Council, said: “We received an application for the path to be made accessible again and we decided to support this, but we have received an objection from the landowner.”
Property professionals Balfours are representing the Oteley Estate, which owns the land the footpath is on.
They declined to comment pending the public inquiry.

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