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As a last resort, the Redspearlands Footpath Group, a member of the Open Spaces Society, has served a notice on Cumbria County Council to open up the illegally blocked bridleway at Roewath Bridge at Stockdalewath, near Dalston, Carlisle.
The path, which was first recorded as a right of way in 1950, has been illegally blocked for more than 20 years by fencing erected when two labourers’ cottages were converted into a luxury home. Despite the group’s numerous attempts to persuade Cumbria County Council to carry out its statutory duty and reopen the path, nothing has happened.
In January this year, Alan Lyne, secretary of Redspearlands Footpath Group, served a formal notice on Cumbria County Council to remove the obstructions. Under pressure the council then told the landowner, a former Carlisle City Councillor, that the landowner must remove the obstructions by 25 July.
However, the landowner has not done so, and now the footpath group has served a notice on the council to warn it that the group will be seeking an order in the magistrates’ court for the council to reopen the path.
Says a spokesman for the group: ‘We are deeply frustrated that the county council has failed to defend people’s right to walk and ride this route, which has been denied to them for such a long time.
‘So we are using the measures in the Highways Act 1980 which enable members of the public to seek a court order to get a path reopened.
‘We are sorry that the council and the landowner have been so confrontational, but we hope that the threat of court action will cause them to reopen the route.’