Volunteers clear up popular Wigan footpath for second time
Determined residents have restored access to a well-used footpath once again, after it was blocked just hours after their first attempt last week.
Green-fingered volunteers had gathered in Standish last week, spades in hand, to clear away mounds of soil and overgrowth and make the footpath more accessible for walkers.
The group of women had been given permission by the land-owner to clear the site, which runs from the side of Littleton Grove to the rear of Bradley Lane, but have faced disputes with the owner of a neighbouring property who they say has claimed the land as their own.
The resident, who has not been named,is believed to have made attempts to block the entrance to the path with mounds of earth, and had put concrete posts and fence panels in place which would cut the land off.
The ladies were left deflated to hear that, barely an hour after they had finished, the piles of earth had been heaped back into place at the end of the pathway, once again hindering its usability.
But they were determined not to be defeated, returning to the site once again last week to make the path accessible once more.
Although it does not form part of the adopted highway (and therefore does not qualify as a public right of way), the bridleway has been used as a convenient cut-through by Standish residents of all ages for decades.
Debbie Parkinson, councillor for Standish with Langtree, was supporting the residents with their efforts to keep the pathway in use.
She said: “I found the land owner and spoke to him. The neighbouring resident says the land is his, but the land owner has shown us the deeds and plans for the area, and is adamant he’s not sold any land to anybody.
“He’s quite happy with people using it as a footpath. It’s not an official right of way, but he’s quite happy because it has been used for so long, so he gave the residents permission to clear it again.”
Coun Parkinson added: “I think what we need to do is measure up this land and make sure what the resident says is his, is. Then maybe we can settle this once and for all.
“The land owner says he will visit the resident if necessary.
“Whether there’s been a misunderstanding and the resident thinks he owns more than he does, I’m not sure.”
Volunteer Susan Shawcross said: “It’s been used as a shortcut for about 40 years.
“There’s a lot of people who use it.
“A lot of old people use it because you miss out the hill on the way into Standish village. School children, of a morning, rather than go down School Lane where there’s lots of traffic, will use the cutting to go through the new estate and cut across to Standish High, so it’s safer for them as well.
“But within an hour of us leaving, it had all been put back.”
Susan added: “He’s put concrete posts up with high panels at the bottom.
“Everybody was up in arms about it, but we couldn’t do anything about it because it (the fencing) was his property.
“But no fencing has ever gone up. It’s used by everyone.”
“I just don’t understand how (the resident) can be getting away with it.
“If he’s not breaking the law by putting it there, then we’re not breaking the law by moving it.”