HELP NEEDED!

Please see below a complaint submitted by Ian Ellison to T&W regarding the re routing/ rights of way issues surrounding their actions on Hutchison Way, Station Road, Newport.

In addition I have been asked to canvas you and your friends and families as names of local residents who can give evidence on the use of the Station Road site as a recreational area i.e dog walking, running , walking cycling and those old enough even golf. I would ask that any names of people who can assist in giving this pivotal evidence be forwarded to me ASAP to enable a working group to be formed to assist in the Village Green hearing in September. Please ask around and don’t be shy you will only be asked to become involved at a level you are happy with.

Complaint re Rights of Way Issue Hutchison Way, Station Road , Newport

 

I am writing regarding the right of way (RoW) which commences at the beginning of Hutchison Way on Station Road, Newport, and is marked on maps as progressing roughly south west through a wooded area and then south through a Telford and Wrekin Council (T&WC) owned field. I have been in email and on-site discussions with the Senior Rights of Way Officer, for some time about establishing the correct path of the RoW and getting it re-instated. All our exchanges have been conducted in a civilised manner and without any apparent sign of acrimony on either side. However, a mutually satisfactory resolution to the inhabitants of Newport’s wish to have the proper and correct RoW established has yet to be achieved, though some progress has been made.

The area in question is marked on maps as Baddely’s Wells. Earlier this year, the T&WC fenced off a number of areas including Baddely’s Wells, thereby blocking off the RoW route. The Senior RoW Officer acknowledged that this was an illegal act and undertook to rectify the situation, which he did to some extent. However, though he and I were in agreement about the start point of the RoW, there was no meeting of minds on the subsequent route to the RoW’s exit point to Baddely’s Wells.

 

When the T&WC installed its fencing, using tax payers’ money against their specific wishes, the RoW was re-aligned, without due authority, down the west side of Baddely’s Wells. This was a convenient routing for the T&WC. In the process, a small planked bridge over a dried-up stream, which was on the RoW route, was re-located to the side of the field on the new path. The bridge in of itself is not significant, but what is important, is that not only was the RoW arbitrarily moved but also the trace of its original path was destroyed.

The Senior RoW Officer produced several maps of varying ages for my inspection as he maintained that the Ordinance Survey (OS) maps and Sat Nav data was of an inadequate scale to determine the correct route properly. Consequently, I sought the opinion of a Subject Matter Expert (SME), who as a former OS employee, still retained large scale maps showing the RoW’s route. He oriented to map to extant landmarks and reference points and determined that the RoW route should exit the wooded area verging on Baddely’s Wells some 10 metres to the east of where the fenced path emerged from the wood to run alongside the field’s hedge. From this exit point, the RoW should run roughly south across the corner of the field, crossing the old location of the planked bridge, until it coincided with new fenced path. It is worthy of note that the field is occupied by 2 friendly horses who, for health and safety reasons would need to be corralled off from local citizens using the proper RoW.

I pointed out the SME’s determined route to the Senior RoW Officer on site when he was briefing a contractor on what remedial work he wanted undertaking to meet his determination of the RoW route which would be highly convenient for the T&WC in terms of cost and intrusion into Council land: but cost did not seem to enter into any consideration when the fencing was erected at a reported price of £10K to £15K.

During the course of our discussion the Senior RoW Officer stated that his job was to ensure that RoWs were correctly and accurately put and kept in place but opined that his proposed corrective measures for overcoming the Council’s illegal blocking of the RoW with fencing, was ‘good enough for him’. This stance would seem to be somewhat contradictory to the previously stated intent and raison d’etre of his post.

In the event, the Senior RoW Officer had a portion of the new fencing by the start of the Hutchison Way removed and a path mowed through the undergrowth of the adjacent wooded area to a point by the recently installed kissing gate in the north west corner of Baddely’s Wells via another break in the new fencing. This is the Council’s low-cost convenient solution but does not accord with the wishes of the residents of Newport who wish to see the proper RoW established from the start of the Hutchison Way, through the wooded area and across Baddely’s Wells on its rightful route.

The bottom line from the above, is a complaint that the T&WC wilfully wasted tax-payers’ money on installing fencing, against the specific wishes of those same people it is supposed to represent, and thereby illegally blocking a RoW. Furthermore, when rectification was undertaken, it was half-hearted and driven by convenience for the Council. The residents of Newport wish to see the proper RoW route installed and all barriers to free passage removed from the land owned by the Council and administered by them on behalf of the residents and voters. The fields are in regular daily use for all manner of recreational and transit purposes, and there has been unhindered passage for a great many years until recently. I am sure that the T&WC is well aware that there is a great swelling of outrage at their stated intentions for the ‘development’ of Newport. Removal of the fencing would be ideal but this would be even more profligate and imprudent expenditure. However, a satisfactory resolution to the RoW and free passage along extant footpaths would in some measure mollify the outrage felt by Newport’s citizens at the T&WC’s blatant attempts to destroy the ethos of their market town.

Ian Ellison

 

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