Anger at plan to divert public footpath to Blackpool nature reserve

Funding of £40,000 to maintain public footpaths across Blackpool is to go ahead – but the council has come under fire for not reinstating a path across Marton Mere Holiday Village.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 3:28 pm
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 3:30 pm

A report to councillors had recommended diverting footpath 11 which leads from Preston New Road to Marton Mere over council owned land.

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Council accused of failing to maintain rights of way in Blackpool

The report said the path is overgrown and security guards at the caravan park are “stopping people walking through” due to the risk of anti-social behaviour.

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The blocked entrance to footpath 11 on Preston New Road

But Coun Martin Mitchell, chairman of the tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee, said the right of way should be enforced.

He told the committee: “For the council to take action against private land owners, we have to clean up our own act.”

He added: “There is mention in the report of staff on the caravan park not allowing people to walk on a public right of way. That should not be the case.

“When it comes to anti-social behaviour, we tackle anti-social behaviour, we don’t put up with it.

“I feel there needs to be some enforcement within a reasonable length of time and without enforcement this £40,000 is going to be a stop gap.”

The committee agreed to carry out a detailed scrutiny into the maintenance of all 47 public footpaths in the town after it was found six were unpassable. As part of that councillors will make a site visit to footpath 11.

Ken Cridland, who raised the issue at a previous meeting of the committee when his route to Marton Mere was blocked, said the latest report confirmed the council was “still not fulfilling it legal responsibilities”.

In comments read out to the meeting, he said while the council was seeking to enforce legal requirements on private landowners, there was less evidence of it doing this when paths ran its own land.

He added the “failure to defend the public right of way within the caravan park is very concerning.”

Mr Cridland said: “This state of affairs is in real danger of being seen by the public and by private landowners as being hypocritical.

“I think it important that the council leads from the front over public rights of way.

“The proposed alternative route for path 11 is barely acceptable as a temporary measure, and would never be acceptable as a permanent alternative.”

It has been recommended to divert the path up Paddock Drive and along Kipling Drive to the Marton Mere access next to Kipling Court.

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