Council turn down island residents legal challenge over access to Anglesey footpath
Campaigners have pledged to fight on after a council has rejected a legal challenge to keep a popular footpath open to the public on Anglesey.
Villagers had said the rural route between a castle and a beach which runs close to a new holiday and housing complex at Penmon had been used “for generations” – but the Isle of Anglesey County Council says there is no right of way.
Retired doctor Nick Stuart had made the legal case on behalf of residents in the Llangoed and Penmon area, with support from retired health professional Gareth Phillips and others.
They had worked to get the route onto the ‘definitive map’ which formally establishes its presence as a footpath forever.
Among their efforts they had taken more than 20 local witness statements, including some from elderly residents who had attested to their friends and families using the route for decades.
One of the legal requirements to prove a public right of way was to prove the route had been in use for at least 20 years use by local people –
According to their research, the campaigners had claimed the pathway had in fact been in use for at least 200 years, after discovering it was labelled as a ‘third class carriage route’ on a Victorian map.
But the council had argued there was “insufficient evidence” supporting the dedication of the route in common law
It also claimed the criteria for the route to be dedicated as a public footpath had not been met.
The Amos Group Ltd had submitted evidence to demonstrate that there had been no right of way over the alleged route during the relevant period and had stated that the gates along the farm track a were not in Amos Group’s ownership.
The residents had been locked in a battle to keep the footpath open after the gates at both end were chained and padlocked by an unknown third party about two and a half years ago.
Walkers had continued to use the route climbing round the sides of the gates, but more stringent barriers, and a number of signs had been out in place.
But an Isle of Anglesey County Council spokesperson said:
“We can confirm that the Definitive Map Modification Order application by Dr Nick Stuart has been refused.
“The decision was communicated to Dr Stuart at the end of June, together with a report which contains our conclusions on the evidence.
“The application was refused as the County Council considers that there is insufficient evidence supporting the dedication of the route at common law.
“Also, the County Council has concluded that all of the criteria necessary for statutory dedication (under section 31 of the Highways Act 1980) have not been met.”
“We understand that the applicant and supporters are disappointed with the decision.
“The applicant does have a right of appeal to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales and the process has been explained to him. ”
Dr Nick Stuart said: “We weren’t surprised at all that it was turned down, but we have done a lot of work to prove otherwise.
“We are now going to keep on going, and we will be appealing the decision, and it will go to Cardiff for consideration by PEDW – the Planning and Environment Decisions Wales.”
PEDW manages casework relating to the development and use of land in the public interest.
By BBC LDRS
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