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Campaigners win fight to have Woodford Green path declared a public right of way

PUBLISHED: 18:22 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:25 28 July 2020

Sir Iain Duncan Smith at a meeting about the path on Friday, July 24. Picture: David O'Sullivan

Sir Iain Duncan Smith at a meeting about the path on Friday, July 24. Picture: David O'Sullivan

Archant

A footpath has become the centre of a dedicated campaign, backed by MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, after it was blocked off by a private landowner.

The footpath in question. Picture: Change.orgThe footpath in question. Picture: Change.org

Woodford Green residents say the landowner first attempted to block access to the path near the High Road, insisting it was his private land, at the end of June.

Almost 400 people have now signed a petition calling on Redbridge Council to intervene and Mr Duncan Smith attended a public meeting about the campaign on Friday, July 24.

In a statement on Tuesday, July 28, council leader Jas Athwal confirmed the land was not privately owned but was also not listed as a public footpath, something the council hopes to correct.

Writing publicly on the petition, resident Martin Marcus said the path had been used “for many years” to get between the High Road and High Elms.

Other routes between the two roads contain stretches with no pavement, which he explained was “dangerous for all people, but in particular to those with disabilities and children”.

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David O’Sullivan, who lives less than 30 metres from the path, said: “The shame of it is the council should have been maintaining this path since day dot and we should not have been in this position.”

However, he expressed his gratitude that the council has made a commitment to dedicate the path to public use.

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Cllr Athwal said: “Thanks to local people reaching out to me directly, we’ve reviewed the land and are planning to formally dedicate the path as a public footpath under section 31 of the Highways Act 1980.

“The path is not currently listed as a public right of way (PROW), and it’s not registered land, while The Corporation of London has confirmed it is not part of Epping Forest.

“I’m now seeking advice on how our council can work with local people to make the land a public right of way or Common Land to protect the path for the local community.

“We have written to the landlord requesting they remove any vehicles or items blocking access over and along the path.

“We’ve also instructed them to refrain from encouraging tenants to park in the nearby FEGP car park and using the north end of the path as vehicular access from High Elms.”


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