Footpaths left “blocked, obstructed and neglected”, say campaigners

MANY walkers are struggling to enjoy the full extent of the local countryside because of many footpaths being ‘blocked, obstructed or in a poor condition’, according to community campaigners.

Mick Scholes, spokesperson for Saddleworth South Liberal Democrats, highlighted the increased number of residents who have been walking locally for exercise during the coronavirus lockdown.But he said many have reported being blocked off by footpaths and footbridges which are impassable or in a poor state of repair – so he is urging Oldham Council to act.

Among the problems identified are an unsafe bridge across Chew Brook with a hole large that is hazardous for walkers and on the Oldham Way near Dovestone trees and have fallen and are blocking the path.

And in certain places, notices have been erected by landowners saying ‘No public right of way’ when there is one, while many Public Footpath signposts have disappeared.

Mick said: “Walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is. It’s free, can be done as a family and starts at your front door.

“The news in April that our council tax is being invested in repairing many of Saddleworth’s footbridges is very welcome.

“A little time invested in ensuring the paths also remain open will pay a large health dividend to our community.

“I have submitted a question to the next council meeting asking for this to be prioritised across the borough.

“We are asking Oldham Council to prioritise complaints of paths and stiles being blocked or obstructed by landowners as this is restricting residents’ access to the countryside.”

Mick added Oldham Council’s responsibility for public footpaths includes making sure they can be used by the public, signposting, surface maintenance, bridge maintenance and map updates. They can also provide grants of up to 25 per cent to landowners for maintaining stiles and bridle gates.

Find out more about Public Rights of Way or report any problems to Oldham Council online: www.oldham.gov.uk/info/201054/roads_streets_and_pavements/523/public_rights_of_way

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