Update on Footpaths

There has been controversy surrounding the ploughing of the fields adjacent to Manor Road and Stantons Drive. A number of residents have complained that the paths are being made impassable. On 15th October John, our footpath officer, and I walked the fields (in the rain I might add). The law states that footpaths along the edges of fields should not be ploughed and that footpaths crossing fields can be ploughed but should be restored to a walkable state within fourteen days. The ploughing appeared to be a work in progress at the time we walked the paths but the ploughing had certainly gone right up to the hedge in places. Whether the footpaths that cross the fields will be restored only time will tell.

I raised the matter with the farmer. He made it very clear to me that he has issues with walkers. Whilst the walkers see the farmers as a problem I can also see the other side of the coin. Dogs are allowed to roam freely and some owners do not clear up after them or, if they do, the bag is then thrown in a hedge or (or as we witnessed ourselves) hung on a gatepost to become someone else’s problem. One lady exercises six dogs at a time. I suggest it would be impossible to give appropriate attention to what the animals are doing. I too walk the fields. I like to think that we dog walkers are generally a considerate bunch. However, though they may still be a minority there is plenty of evidence to suggest that many are not. We are right to ask that the law of access be enforced regarding footpaths. By the same token, in exercising our rights as users of the paths we must act lawfully and responsibly and respect the farmland and the farmer’s rights.

We have referred the matter of the footpaths to the County Council and they have said that they will investigate. To be clear, the parish council has no powers to enforce the law. Our role is to engage with the County Council as the body responsible for public rights of way. I still hope that matters can be resolved amicably.