This little section of public footpath in North Yorkshire has an article in the Darlington & Stockton Times and a petition to it’s name with almost 3,000 signatures. What has brought Old Lane out of 800 odd years of quiet public use and relative obscurity into the public limelight?
It’s the same old PathWatch story of obstruction of long established public rights and the abject failure of the local Highway Authority (North Yorkshire County Council) to enforce those rights in a timely manner.
In the case of Old Lane, which is 5 metres wide, a section of fence has been erected (see above photo) narrowing the available width to about a metre. Subsequently a planning application has been submitted to the District Council for a kitchen extension which would encroach onto the footpath.
North Yorkshire CC were made aware of the obstructing fencing at an early stage on 23rd March 2021. They sent a warning letter to the owner/occupier on 7th May 2021 asking for the fence to be removed and the full 5 metre width of Old Lane made available. The letter is shown below.
So, they got off to a reasonable start in asking nicely for the obstruction to be removed by June 2021. However, the fence is still there. To all intents this letter is a bluff and no section 143 notice has been served on the obstruction as outlined in the warning letter.
This is such a typical situation and is repeated by local Highway Authorities all over England. Have a nice run out from the office, take a few photos, send a warning letter and then……nothing.
The latest update from NYCC is quoted below.
We will continue to engage within the person responsible for the fence to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this issue without having to resort to enforcement action. However if such an agreement cannot be reached in a reasonable timescale the County Council will consider legal action to remove the fence. However, such action will have to be prioritised against other ongoing public rights of way enforcement cases elsewhere in the County so at present it is not possible to give an indication of when enforcement action would be undertaken in this case.
Again pretty typical back peddling. What is there to engage about. Get the fence shifted!