Campaign to put Skell footpath back on map

The path runs along the River Skell from Bondgate Green Bridge to outside the Water Rat pub. (Library picture)
The path runs along the River Skell from Bondgate Green Bridge to outside the Water Rat pub. (Library picture)

Fears over the future of a public footpath running alongside the River Skell have been raised by a Ripon resident to the county council.

John Topping, of Bellman Walk, has been campaigning for 10 years to have the footpath put on the definitive map after frustrations when it has been blocked off or encroached upon.

The 65-year-old now fears that once the former Jewsons site has been developed, residents who move in will encroach on the footpath and the council will be powerless to stop them. Despite having the support of councillors, Mr Topping said he still feels 
like he is “banging his head against the wall” with his campaign.

“It’s really annoyed me because every time I walk down there, the footpath is blocked but there’s nothing anyone can do because it is not on the definitive map,” he said.

“It was left off when it was compiled for some reason but that footpath has been there for 60 years.

“I’m worried that once the Jewson’s site is developed, the people in the houses will encroach quite naturally on the footpath because they are in a prime position.

“All I want is for this foot path to be put on the map so people can’t encroach on it.

“A lot of money has been spent on this footpath but I don’t think public money should be used on it if there’s no public access.”

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) said an investigation was needed 
to estbalish whether public rights of way legally exist but stressed it “should not be disturbed”.

A spokesman for NYCC said: “The footpath running along the River Skell in Ripon is a well-established path that has benefited from public funding for improvement in the past.

“Although not recorded on the definitive map as a public right of way, an application has now been submitted to North Yorkshire County Council for the River Skell pathway to 
be recorded as a public footpath.

“This application is one of a large number of applications needing to be investigated to establish whether public rights of way legally exist.

“In the meantime the path is considered to be a ‘claimed’ public right of way, and should not be disturbed.