Inquiry to look into Tadcaster footpath fight

Members of the action group in Tadcaster, Bernard Walford, Patrick Tunney, and Linda Bould at the blocked off footpath from Wighill Lane to the old viaduct in Tadcaster. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Members of the action group in Tadcaster, Bernard Walford, Patrick Tunney, and Linda Bould at the blocked off footpath from Wighill Lane to the old viaduct in Tadcaster. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

A public inquiry will be launched next month into a footpath that has been blocked for almost three years.

The path, between Wighill Lane and the viaduct in Tadcaster, was used regularly by walkers, cyclists, and schoolchildren until it was blocked by a wall built by the landowners in February 2012.

Campaigners set up an action group to reopen the footpath, which is on land believed to be owned by Samuel Smith’s Brewery, and now, after submitting applications to North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), a public inquiry on its future use will be held from February 3 to 18.

Campaigner Patrick Tunney said: “The path was used by many people for a very long time and it is almost a lifeline between one side of the town and the other.

“If we are successful it will be a reinstatement of what was the status quo and we are hoping the inspector will see the reasoning behind it and be able to award in our favour accordingly.

“We have put a lot of work into this and we knew it was not going to be easy. As a member of the community I owe it to others to try and have it reopened.”

The Wetherby News has learned that the fight against the closure of the path will be based on two criteria: the common law on the existence of a right of way and proof of 20 years’ use.

Tadcaster Town Council added its support to reopen the footpath and has publicly welcomed the public inquiry.

The Mayor of Tadcaster Coun Stephen Cobb said: “There is absolutely no doubt that people have been using a route from the eastern end of the old railway viaduct, which the town council owns, on to Wighill Lane for many years.

“They used it for recreation and exercise, they used it to go to school, and they used it to go to work. Right up until the route was closed off by a new landowner, NYCC was making plans with the previous landowner to open up a path as a cycle route across the river and a safe route to school.

“We fully support the county council in its attempt to make this route, which has been used by so many people for so long, a proper public right of way.”

Samuel Smith’s did not provide a comment.