Outrage as path is blocked to walkers

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TADCASTER residents say they are shocked and angry that a popular path has been closed to the public.

The route, which links Wighill Lane to Tadcaster viaduct, was blocked off to the public just over a week ago.

The stretch of pathway, which is around 250 metres long, was used daily by a number of cyclists, dog walkers and schoolchildren.

But a six foot wooden fence, a concrete wall and signs saying “no public right of way” now cut off the route.

Resident Patrick Tunney, 72, has set up a community action group to try to get the public footpath reinstated.

Patrick, who has lived in Tadcaster for nearly 20 years, said: “I was surprised and disappointed to find the public footpath had been closed.

“I have used this footpath every day for nearly 18 years as an amenity to get across town.

“The strength of feeling in the town is strong.

“There is a degree of anger about it and a lot of disappointment.”

The land on which the footpath lies is believed to be owned by Samuel Smith’s Brewery.

It had been expected that the route was to be converted into a new footpath and cycleway, with North Yorkshire County Council commissioning a heritage report on the site last year, but the brewery has now reportedly bought up the land.

In a statement posted on Tadcaster’s official webpage, Mr Tunney wrote that a meeting between Samuel Smith’s Brewery and the action group had discussed the path.

It said: “At a meeting with the brewery on February 28, we tried to see if we could reasonably influence the brewery to reconsider their stance.

“The brewery confirmed that they had acquired the site and that the blocking off of the ‘unofficial’ path across the land was to be permanent.

“Their intention was to maintain but re-site the public right of way across their land adjacent to the east of the river.

“We were disappointed to hear that this was their position.”

The action group has now delivered more than 1,500 leaflets to houses across the town to raise awareness about the path.

Steve Cobb, deputy chairman of Tadcaster Town Council, said: “We are very disappointed about this.

“This was a popular route used by local people and it is a huge disappointment for the council and the people of Tadcaster.”

A North Yorkshire County Council spokesman said: “We will consider any submissions on the subject when they are presented to us.”

Nobody from Samuel Smith was available for comment.