It was with some optimism that I set off for the village of Tetsworth in Oxfordshire last weekend. I have been reporting path problems here for nearly two years and my most recent chaser to the highway authority, Oxfordshire County Council, had elicited a more positive response.
The countryside access officer (south east), Jackie Smith, has patiently been working on this. She told me that the landowner had confirmed that he or she had repaired at least two of the four ‘stiles’ which I had reported, and that two paths had been reinstated through crop. A padlock had been unlocked. If true, this was indeed progress (though Jackie said that various other reports, such as a mobile home blocked a path and a path obstructed by vegetation (pictured below) still had to be followed up).
But, sadly, hardly any of it was true. The padlock around the gate at the junction of footpath 22 and bridleway 28 was unlocked but it was still bound up with two chains. I removed one of them and left the other so that it looked less daunting. Of course a kissing-gate and waymarks are needed here.
The gate across footpath 17, which I had reported in June, was still locked, but the owner had put in a ‘stile’ to the side, not to British Standard, and severely restricting the width of the definitive line. So I have reported it again.
The ‘stile’ on footpath 12 by Goldpits Farm was even more of an obstruction, having become overgrown with nettles, and a nearby bonfire was extremely unpleasant.
Contrary to the landowner’s assurance, the path across the field had not been reinstated.
And the path across the next field (footpath 18) remained obstructed by barley.
The ‘stile’ on footpath 14 was worse than ever. When you approach from the south it leans away from you with a short step. I had to climb on top and jump.
The fence at the junction of footpaths 13,14 and 17 remains an obstruction, despite the landowner claiming it had been sorted. It has a nail sticking out too so is highly dangerous.
The landowners are being economical with the truth, and giving the county council the run around.
I shall not let it rest. There is no excuse for such blatant path blocking. Legal action may be necessary.