Footpath woe for village as MP gets involved

Celia Leech
Celia Leech

A south Norfolk woman is leading the fight against perceived inaction from Norfolk County Council on an overgrown footpath in her village.

Celia Leech has been asking the council - which moved from a regular maintenance system to a reactive scheme this year - to cut overgrown vegetation between Heath Road and Winfarthing Road, Banham, since July.

She has enlisted the help of the MP for South West Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss, has approached the Local Government Ombudsman, and is willing to take the case to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.

A county council spokesman, however, claimed that the path is not deemed overgrown.

Ms Leech, who has kept a log of her communication with the authority, said: “The footpath was cut twice a year before this year, and was always popular. But now, you can’t really use it.

“It’s not just me - there are dog walkers like myself for whom the path is necessary, and take great pleasure in using it.”

But a spokesman for the council, said: “We have written to Ms Leach to apologise for the delay in responding, but to let her know that we have inspected the footpath network in the area around where she lives.

“In our opinion, the paths are passable, and there is clear evidence the path has been recently used. We accept there is some vegetation, which is to be expected from a country path, but we are aware that this is more overgrown on a section of path which runs across a local landowner’s land where sugar beet is being grown.”

In September, the Diss Express reported on a similar overgrown case in Dickleburgh.

The county council moved to the reactive scheme due to public sector cuts. The idea is that it acts when overgrown areas are reported by bodies such as parish councils, or path users.