During the Coronavirus lockdown, thousands of Saddleworth residents have been walking regularly from home for an hour for exercise. Unfortunately, walkers have found many local footpaths blocked, obstructed or are in a poor condition.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson Mick Scholes said: “As more council resources become available after the hard work done fighting the effects of Coronavirus, 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.”
Among the problems are:
- an unsafe bridge across Chew Brook, with a hole large enough for walkers to fall through and break a leg;
- notices erected by some landowners saying “No public right of way” when there is a right of way, and many Public Footpath signposts have disappeared;
- fallen trees blocking part of the Oldham Way footpath near Dovestone.
Oldham Council’s responsibility for public footpaths includes:
- making sure that they can be used by the public
- surface maintenance
- bridge maintenance
- map updates
- grants of up to 25% to landowners for maintaining stiles and bridle gates.
Mick added: “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, and a little time invested in ensuring that the actual paths 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.”
Problems with Public Right of Way can be reported directly to OMBC via the Oldham Council website.