Two Ely footpaths need to be kept open says pressure group
- Credit: Archant
Two public footpaths have been unlawfully closed in Ely, say campaigners with Britain’s oldest national conservation body.
The Open Spaces Society has complained to Cambridgeshire County Council about the unlawful closure of public paths that cross the by Network Rail line.
The society’s local correspondent, Alysoun Hodges, has written to Cambridgeshire County Council, the highway authority, to complain that footpaths 17 and 57, which cross the railway on either side of the River Lark to the east of Ely, have been closed without following proper procedures.
Alysoun said: ‘We deplore Network Rail’s pre-emptive action in closing public footpaths before any decision has been made about them.
“These paths are highways in law and should be reopened forthwith.
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“We understand that Network Rail is applying retrospectively for a traffic regulation order to close footpaths 17 and 57, but of course it should have applied for this first.
‘We have urged the county council, which is responsible for keeping paths clear of obstruction, to take swift action to ensure that everyone can use and enjoy these paths.”
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She said: “While Network Rail is carrying out a consultation on the closure of path crossings over railways lines in East Anglia, the public inquiry is not due to be held for another year and no decisions have been made.
“These paths are still highways in law.”
Ely footpath 50 (which connects to the Bishops Way circular route between Ely, Chettisham and Little Downham) has a misleading notice stating that it is closed, she added.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Maintaining Rights of Way are important to us and our communities.
“We have contacted Network Rail to have the paths either reinstated or, as in some cases where they have been closed for safety reasons, more suitable alternatives put in place as soon as possible.
“We will continue to work with Network Rail to get the issue sorted as quickly as possible.”
•The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.
It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths and people’s right to enjoy them.