Political party accused of scaremongering in Wing footpath dispute

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A political party has been accused of ‘scaremongering’ after publishing a leaflet with ‘inaccurate’ claims about closing footpaths.

Buckinghamshire’s Liberal Democrats have been ordered to retract its flyer which claims popular walk ways in Wing and Wingrave, used by walkers for more than 20 years, could be closed.

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The Lib Dems said that landowners would be able to close the footpaths any time they wanted once the 90-day period of a “little-known” CA17 notice which had been put up had elapsed without challenge.

The controversial Lib Dem Leaflet, photo from Charlie Smith Local Democracy ServiceThe controversial Lib Dem Leaflet, photo from Charlie Smith Local Democracy Service
The controversial Lib Dem Leaflet, photo from Charlie Smith Local Democracy Service

However, the claims have been dismissed as “incorrect” by Conservative councillors, following their consultation with the landowners involved.

Councillor Steven Broadbent provided an update on the situation last week after his fellow Tory councillor Diana Blamires called for clarity on the situation.

He told a meeting of Buckinghamshire Council: “In this instance, there is no application to close any defined footpath. This is the landowner exercising their right to define where that footpath lies.

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“Any literature, any commentary that scaremongers the local residents to claims footpaths are closing is wrong, should be retracted and is irresponsible in my view.”

Councillor Blamires, who represents Wing, said residents in her ward were “worried” after the claims that footpaths were closing.

Councillor Broadbent said CA17 forms were a way for landowners to remind walkers and others where the defined footpath routes were located due to people “wandering off” paths.

He said that if landowners do not issue reminders, there is a risk in the future that people may try to claim an “implied right of way”.

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His call for the Lib Dems to retract the literature was met with applause from Conservative councillors during the meeting.

The Lib Dem councillor for Wing Peter Cooper was told by the Conservative chair Patricia Birchley that he was not allowed to respond to the claims.

Councillor Cooper fronted the leaflet, along with local Lib Dem campaigner Helen Sunday. Councillor Cooper has been approached for comment.

The Liberal Democrats are the largest opposition party in Buckinghamshire to the unitary authority.