Bucks meant business

Thirty years ago, Buckinghamshire County Council was leading the way among highway authorities for prosecuting path-blocking landowners.

As Ramblers’ Area Footpath Secretary for Bucks (which then included Milton Keynes), I kept a list.  There were 14 prosecutions in the magistrates’ courts between July 1987 and April 1994, many of them for more than one offence.  Quite a few were in what was then Milton Keynes borough (eg Emberton, North Crawley, Ravenstone and Stoke Goldington) and Aylesbury Vale (eg Addington, Biddlesden, Granborough, Hoggeston, Nether Winchendon, Quainton, Soulbury and Westbury) where ploughing and cropping of paths was rife.  The farmers were generally fined and required to pay the county’s costs—but of course the council never recovered full costs, rightly recognising that this policy was in the public interest.

Publicise
The Ramblers helped to publicise the results with the intent of spreading the word among the farming community that Bucks means business, and path blockers could face prosecution, fines and a criminal record.  The reporter for the Bucks Free Press, the late Anne Edwards, was a great supporter and always keen to use our stories.

1993, 27 May BH Kellner cropped

Bucks Herald, 27 May 1993

1993,22 Jan BFP cropped

Bucks Free Press, 22 Jan 1993, by Anne Edwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One such case was local to me in Turville.  I told the council that David Chown of Southend Farm had ploughed and not reinstated the field-edge Turville footpath 14 (between Turville Court and Turville Grange), and had failed to reinstate Turville footpath 19 (between Dolesden Lane and Southend) after ploughing.  The case was heard in Wycombe magistrates’ court on 17 April 1990.  Mr Chown pleaded guilty to two offences and was fined £75 for each and ordered to pay £50 towards the county’s costs.

1990, 27 Apr BFP Chown

Bucks Free Press, 27 April 1990

Turville footpath 19 was featured in a story in the Observer Living section, by Kirsty Milne, which appeared on 10 June 1990.

Observer 10 June 1990 2

The Observer, 10 June 1990

As far as I recall the path has not been cultivated for many years, and today it is open pasture land.

KA FP19 Turville, Observer, 14 May 1990 (used 10 Jun)

Turville footpath 19, cleared. Photo: Geoff Dowen for the Observer (14 May 1990)

7 TUV FP19 small

Turville footpath 19, April 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All credit to Bucks County Council for its prosecution policy, largely due to the far-sightedness of its rights-of-way officers Alan Lambourne and Mike Walker.  We haven’t had a prosecution for some time now, and money is tight, but the officers still do a good job in difficult circumstances.

About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Access, Bucks, Obstructed path, Public paths, Ramblers, Turville and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bucks meant business

  1. Sandra Hills says:

    We still after 5 years are not able to use footpath 8 in Sunningwell the Oxfordshire council have had closure orders on it but the last one was to end in November 19th 2019 but its still not able to be used as a screwed up gate and wire fence has been put in the way to stop its use.
    Can you help or advise what I can do to get it open

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