Walkers’ groups fight plan to close valuable town-centre path in High Wycombe

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The Open Spaces Society and the Buckinghamshire Ramblers have opposed a plan by Wycombe District Council to close part of a valuable footpath in High Wycombe’s town centre.

The threatened footpath

The council wants to impose a Public Spaces Protection Order(1) (PSPO) on the path, which would close it to public use. It claims that the path is subject to crime and anti-social behaviour. The path is a short cut between Desborough Avenue and West End Street.

Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary and footpath secretary of the Ramblers in Buckinghamshire: ‘This path is part of a much longer route extending between Rutland Street and Leigh Street. It is a well-used and popular short cut.

‘We do not consider that closing this path will eliminate the alleged problem of anti-social behaviour; it will merely push the problem onto another section of path which the council may then consider closing. If the path was to be well lit and welcoming, crime would be less likely to occur — and bona fide walkers are the eyes and ears to prevent it from happening.

‘We are also concerned that people will instead have to walk around three sides of a rectangle, alongside busy roads with traffic, on footways which are often obstructed.

‘Moreover, the issue is made more complicated as adjoining householders need access along the path, so there will have to be locked gates with certain people having keys.

‘We do not believe that the council has met the legal criteria for making a PSPO for this path, and we urge the council to abandon the plan,’ says Kate.

The Buckinghamshire Local Access Forum and the Chiltern Society also oppose the plan.

1 PSPOs were introduced in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 as a means of reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in public places, defined in the orders as Restricted Areas. Before making an order affecting a public footpath the council must consider the likely effect of making the order on the occupiers of premises alongside the highway, and on other persons in the locality, and the availability of a reasonably convenient route.

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