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A public inquiry opens on Tuesday (22 June) into Swansea Council’s plan to close the public footpath over the former slip-bridge on the seafront in Swansea. We are among the objectors to the proposals.
The council has made an order to close the path on the grounds that it is not needed for public use and won’t be needed in future, owing to an alternative crossing over the Oystermouth Road.
We argue that the council has not proved that the path is not needed for public use, and therefore it has not met the legal tests for path closures.
Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘Clearly the path is needed for public use. There are over 150 objectors to the plan to close it. That alone should be sufficient evidence. The route is valuable and popular because it provides a path to the sea front, connecting with the coastal route which is being promoted by the Welsh Assembly Government as part of the round-Wales coastal route. It also leads to the beach which is a popular destination.
‘The path might well be needed by the public in future to provide a safe crossing, on a historic route, over the busy, dual-carriageway Oystermouth Road.
‘The council claims that the pedestrian crossing over Oystermouth Road is a suitable alternative. Of course it is not, as it is not available to the public at all times, and therefore is not a public highway across the dual-carriageway. In order to be a suitable alternative it would need, at the very least, for walkers at all times to have priority over vehicular traffic and for walkers to feel safe when crossing the road. A pedestrian crossing is an interrupted use of the highway, and walkers are clearly subordinate to vehicular users.
‘Furthermore, the pelican crossing could at any time be removed, or could have its timing altered, leading to a very long wait by those wishing to cross the road.
‘If the route is closed it is gone for ever and cannot be restored. Yet the aim must be to restore the historic bridge and the access across it. It is a vital part of Swansea’s maritime history, and we should be proud of it,’ Kate declares.