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The village hall at Dorchester on Thames in Oxfordshire was packed on Tuesday evening (10 January) for the launch of the village’s campaign to preserve the footpaths and open access to the historic Dyke Hills and Day’s Lock Meadow close to the River Thames.
Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary, and Dorchester resident Becky Waller spoke at the 180-strong public meeting. They called on residents of Dorchester, Little Wittenham and other nearby villages to join the crusade.
A new landowner, UKIP’s former treasurer Mr Andrew Reid of Bishop’s Court Farm, has erected fencing across paths which people have used for decades; he has enclosed footpaths and restricted access to popular open spaces.
Local people are gathering evidence of use of green spaces at the eastern end of the ancient Dyke Hills and by the Thames at Day’s Lock Meadow, to apply for them to be registered as village greens. This would protect the land for ever and give local people legal rights of recreation there.
They will also apply for paths to be added to Oxfordshire County Council’s official map of public paths and thus recognised as public highways.
Said Kate: ‘We deplore the mass of ugly fencing which has been festooned across the paths and green spaces in this beautiful landscape, and we welcome the campaign to record people’s long-held rights to enjoy these historic paths and spaces alongside the River Thames.
‘We look forward to helping the local people to record their rights so that they are protected for ever more.’