Why has a public bridleway in Market Harborough been closed for more than a year?
A veteran rambler has slammed a decision to close a much-loved bridleway in Market Harborough for over a year.
Peter Pollak, 74, said it was “outrageous” that the historic public right of way on Farndon Fields had been shut for 14 months.
He accused Leicestershire County Council of “giving in” to housebuilder Avant Homes – which is building a new estate there.
The council says it’s now asking the developer to provide an “alternative route”.
Furious Peter, of Limner Street, Farndon Fields, told the Harborough Mail: “It’s simply outrageous that this bridleway, known as A105, should have been shut off for over a year.
“The public has been denied access to it since November 2018.”
The retired insurance surveyor added: “It was loved and used all the time by so many different people – horseriders, cyclists, walkers and runners.
“This fantastic public route to the west of Harborough leads up towards East Farndon.
“It feeds into a whole network of paths taking people out into our gorgeous countryside.
“It’s absolutely crucial and it’s criminal that it’s been closed so long.”
Peter is a key local member of the Open Spaces Society, the UK’s oldest national conservation body.
“You can’t just block off a bridleway.
“This is an ancient route stretching back hundreds of years,” he insisted.
“It must have been used and enjoyed by many thousands of people in the Harborough area down the ages.
“It’s a vital right of way – we wouldn’t dream of suddenly closing the M1 or the M25 to motorists.
“The builder and the council should have given us an alternative route to follow.
“But nothing has materialised – it’s a scandal.
“The council has given in all too easily to Avant Homes as they build yet more new houses over there.
“This route was closed for safety reasons – not because they were actually building on it.
“So the developer should have erected fencing either side of the path and it could have been kept open.”
Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the 155-year-old Open Spaces Society, said: ‘The county council has a legal duty to protect the rights of the public on this path and to keep it free of obstruction.
“We have written to the council to ask that it exercises that duty and reopens the path.’
A Leicestershire County Council spokesman said: “The bridleway was closed by the developer as it crosses an area being developed for housing.
“We have approached the developer and asked them to provide an alternative route while work is ongoing and they have now suggested a route.”
He added: “The developer has indicated the alternative path will be available shortly.
“We will be inspecting the site to confirm this.”
An Avant Homes spokeswoman said: “It is our priority that no members of the public are put at risk on the bridleway while heavy building work is undertaken.
“Health and safety constraints and the order of our build programme has led to the bridleway remaining closed due to necessary ongoing infrastructure work across the route.”
She added: “We are in ongoing discussions with Leicestershire County Council to open a satisfactory and temporary path around the site connecting the existing route, which we hope to progress this month. “We expect the fully-finished bridleway to be open to the public in late 2020.”