Outrage has been expressed that a vital footpath link between Palgrave and Diss has been “trashed” after work was carried out to renovate it.
The damage, created by someone driving a digger along the Lows Lane footpath, is considered by Suffolk County Council to be an illegal act and they have informed Suffolk Police.
Lows Lane is heavily used by shoppers and schoolchildren and is seen as the only safe pedestrian walkway from Palgrave into the town. There is no pavement on the narrow Denmark Hill road.
Concerned local resident Adrian Roy, of Lows Lane, said the footpath had been used by heavy machinery: “A digger was taken down the no-access path and then became stuck and bogged down. An even bigger digger was then taken down to try to extricate it, but unsuccessfully. All of this took place during the day when children and members of the public were using what is a narrow footpath.” He said all the hard work put in recently by Suffolk County Council to repair the path, which included clearing out drainage and ditches, had “effectively been trashed”.
“Much more damage has been done to the made-up surface, fences have been torn down, the ditches have been caved in, and bollards erected to prevent vehicular access have been driven over and torn out.”
Mr Roy said: “Water is once more running down the made-up path which is almost unrecognisable due to being covered by several inches of wet, sticky mud.”
He added the “desecration of a much used and much needed amenity” was having an impact on the community, leaving Palgrave “isolated from Diss by foot”. Although protective tape had been put up by the police, it had been removed by path users because, Mr Roy said, “for many - children going to school, or the elderly heading into town for shopping - this is the only safe route by foot”.
Palgrave Parish Council clerk Katherine Jones said: “The parish council is very concerned about the situation and understands parishioners’ concerns. We are continuing to update Suffolk County Council and the police about it and pushing for them to take some action to get it resolved as soon as possible.”
A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said that a traffic regulation order on part of Lows Lane prohibited vehicles other than those used by the landowner, or occupier, to access fields immediately next to the restriction, while another part of Lows Lane is not a road but a public footpath.
“Suffolk County Council is very disappointed that parts of Lows Lane have been damaged by somebody driving a digger along the lane. We consider that this act is illegal and have made Suffolk Police aware of our concerns. In the past we have undertaken repairs to this lane following similar incidents.
“Due to ongoing damage we will not undertake further extensive repairs until we are confident there will not be further incidents. We will make the lane safe in line with our Highways Maintenance Operational Plan.”
Suffolk Police said they were aware of the continuing problems in Lows Lane and were dealing with the matter.