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Public Footpaths

I've re-posted my statement below because I believe there must be many people out there who walk through Redcastle wood and share this view.  In unity there is strength so if other (dirt track users) wish to lend their support in trying to take this forward towards the creation  of a safe public footpath through the wood, then I suggest your voice ought to be heard at Thetford Town Council in this regard at:  01842 754247  or   mail@thetfordtowncouncil.gov.uk    I have raised the question with the Town Council to get these dirt tracks registered as public rights of way.  This seems to be a required preliminary step before any justification for improvement  to the dirt tracks can be made.  I believe there is a good argument  for an  upgrade which is why
I'm on a mission to get three muddy dirt tracks through Redcastle Plantation  connecting  St. Johns Estate with Canterbury Road (Abbey Farm Estate) made into proper footpaths so people don't have to trip themselves up in bramble vines trying to avoid huge mud puddles, or trip over tree stumps and exposed roots.  But first,  I am told it must be registered as a public right of way!  Would you believe it!!!  How many years have mothers with push chairs and young kids hanging on, have had to contend with this---never mind the hundreds of other people who use these muddy tracks---and still,--- it needs to be registered as a public right of way before anything can be done about it.  It just defies belief!!                                                       

Comments

Showing 9 of 9
Ray C
as I see it this has been used as a short cut ever since the two estates where built back in the 60`s a lot of the kids used to use it to get to the then only high school from abbey estate , the only problem with a pathway would be at the steep hill as I think the rain could erode the soil under a path way at this point.
Mike L
I have been in contact with Susan Glossop, Thetford Town Council acting Town Clerk,  who has advised me of a pending visit from a Mr. Mike Brindle, a Norfolk County Councillor who will inspect the dirt tracks through Redcastle wood.  He will apparently pass a judgement as to a need for upgrading.  If it is a positive judgement, it will then pass through some procedural rigmarole before it can be established as a public right of way.  This may take some time before it ever gets to the planning stage, when  those deemed as experts, will then have the opportunity to judge the feasibility of such a footpath upgrade.  I'm sure, if in their view, soil erosion is problematic, then appropriate measures will be taken to solve the issue---if it is an issue.
Annette B
I understand the problems but would just add a note of caution, I used to live in Lincolnshire in a house that backed onto a similar sort of track through a piece of woodland. The track was "improved" as  the surface had the same sort of imperfections as the tracks in  Redcastle Wood. It became designated a public footpath. It was widened and "smartened up" and the surface improved creating a more "health and safety" acceptable short cut for pedestrians from one main road to another. The downside was that lads on motorbikes then started to use the tracks regularly thus making the short cut dangerous for pedestrians and noisy for the residents whose homes were close to the track. Putting barriers across the access points would have solved the problem but mothers with buggies would also have not been able to use that short cut any more. I envisage something like this could well result in Redcastle Wood if the path was made too "suburbanised". Do be careful what you wish for folks.
Mike L
Annette B

Ok, so what you're saying is never mind what will benefit a great deal of people, that doesn't matter.  Because of the .05% lunatic fringe I will back off, and we will go back to living in the stone age.
Annette B
No Mike. I'm just pointing out that I have experienced a similar situation where the lunatic fringe took advantage of improvements in a way that actually made the improvements for decent folk work out for the worst. The problem needs to thought out carefully with both pluses and minuses as with lot of situations in life.
Mike L
That is where cleverer people than ourselves, who we as tax payers are paying a great deal of money to, will overview the entire feasibility of this proposal ---inclusive of what  the lunatic fringe may or may not do---and make an assessment  on that basis. Our taxes are paying those in a position of careful decision making---have some faith.
Mike L
This is the latest  response as passed onto me  from Mr. Mike Brindle a county Councillor.

"Mike Brindle <mikebrindle@talktalk.net>13:16 (2 hours ago)to prow, Mike, Neil, Susan, me
Dear Colleagues at PROW
I was a little surprised to hear that these paths are not public rights of way. They have blue signs advising that they are footpaths and cycleways. Perhaps you could advise what their status is.
These paths are a safe-from-traffic-route useful to some and essential to a number of school pupils. Mike Lish is correct that they are widely used and muddy. i spent an hour this morning cutting back some of the brambles but they are extensive and really do need a bigger effort than I can manage.
I ask that urgent support should be given to the Town Clerk's request that upgrading to PROW be taken forward (if they are not already) and the signposted routes be improved.
Best wishes"
Mike L

The plot deepens.   Just received this email.:

Neil Featherstone <Neil.Featherstone@suffolk.gov.uk>16:36 (6 minutes ago)to Mike, Susan, me, prow, Mike, Will, Tom

Hello Mike et al

 I originally raised this issue and the state of the paths across the site with Norfolk Highways when the recent improvements were made to the crossing point from the Canterbury Way side. However records show that the paths cross the Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) of Red Castle medieval ring works, church and Saxon settlement.

 I suggest that given its historical significance and designation it is unlikely to receive consent to make any improvements to the pathways, whatever their status in crossing the site.

 However I have copied this to colleagues at English Heritage to gain their opinion in the hope that a suitable and predominately surface treatment may be considered to have less adverse impact upon the site than continuous foot traffic on an unprepared pathway that appears to be getting deeper, wetter and broader and present a hazard to those who daily cross the site. Should consent be granted, the question would still remain of who would pay for any improvements?

 I hope the above is helpful and look forward to their response.

 Kind regards

Neil

Neil Featherstone

Brecks Partnership Manager

The Brecks Partnership

King’s House King Street

Thetford Norfolk IP24 2AP

 

e: neil.featherstone@suffolk.gov.uk

T: 01842 761569 M: 07785 901474

 

www.brecks.org


Mike L
Our  County Councillor for Thetford West is arguing our case.   Personally I would have thought  Health & Safety  regarding mothers with pushchairs would override any argument put forth in favour of care and attention for a local heritage sight.  Yes, perhaps consideration should be given to the needs of the environment, but the bottom line is these bureaucratic officials are there to serve publics best interests.   However their view on the publics best interests often gets  distorted  my their departments best interests, and their need to be seen "swinging the clout of their department"

Brindle, Mike <mike.brindle@norfolk.gov.uk>12:10 (50 minutes ago)to Public, Will, Mike, Neil, Paul, Susan, me, Tom

Dear David and All

 I agree that any surfacing would need to be sympathetic to the location & heritage.

 However I disagree with you about the value of “shortcuts.”  Most local users are on business rather than recreation and to suggest that users should have to walk a longer dog-leg along road edge footways rather than use a more attractive and shorter route flies in the face of human behaviour over millennia. In addition if you use the road edge footways in the Redcastle Estate to access Canterbury Way (say for Bishops School) then you also have to walk along the footway on Brandon Road. This road is the main north-south route through Thetford (& there is no north-south bypass): consequently it is heavily used by HGVs and is a busy route. I walk that pavement in delivering leaflets. It is unpleasant and I would certainly not want to take a child in a pushchair along it.

 The shorter more attractive route through the woods is also much safer for cyclists and I was astonished by you implication that the blue signage has not helped. It has helped both pedestrians and cyclists. Would you rather these people got in their cars (or their parents’ cars)? In other parts of Thetford and Norfolk and the country we are all supposed to be working to encourage walking and cycling for health reasons, for safety reasons and to keep our roads and parking places from being overcrowded.

 Finally, David, you say that the delivery of Public Rights of Way services has undergone significant changes recently. That is certainly true but it is not necessarily permanent. PROW will be discussed at the next meeting of Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Scrutiny Panel and as Vice-Chairman I shall certainly be arguing that the changes need to be reversed and ALL footpaths should be kept useable for health and transport reasons as was the case until a few months ago.. The County elections in May could also lead to a change of policy.

 In short my concern is to get these valuable paths to a state fit for purpose, and I welcome those positive comments we have had.

 Mike

Mike Brindle

County Councillor for Thetford West

Leader, Lib Dem Group

Thetford Town Councillor for Abbey Ward

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