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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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Barrasford: Pauline's path opens after eight-year campaign

SADLY, keen walker Pauline Nichols didn’t live to see the successful outcome of her campaign to establish a right of way near her home village of Barrasford.

But her family and friends gathered this week to mark the official rubber stamping of the route that now provides a link between the eastern end of the village and Chollerton.

It took eight years for the right of way claim submitted by Pauline – a very active member of the Ramblers’ Association – to finally be confirmed by Northumberland County Council.

Mavis Harris, footpaths officer with Hexham Ramblers, had backed Pauline’s claim. She said: “This shows how local people can influence decisions on rights of way to benefit everyone who enjoys walking in the countryside.”

The fight to reclaim the much-used path started in November 2004, when Pauline presented six witness statements of usage to the county council.

Mrs Harris supplied further evidence illustrating the path had been used for more than 20 years.

However, it was discovered that one of the land owners, Swinburne Estate, had gained a statutory declaration of ROW on the estate, meaning that any claim had to be back-dated to 1974 – only five of the original statements went back that far.

The breakthrough came in 2006 when Northumberland County Council’s rights of way committee decided there was sufficient evidence to show a right of way could be reasonably alleged to exist.

However, it was three years before the order was finally made and another three before the ratification of 27 subsequent witness statements, mainly gathered from local men who had used the path as boys to access their local football field.

Even so, it took the efforts of the council’s definitive map officer John McErlane to avoid a public inquiry – he managed to have the objections withdrawn – allowing final confirmation of the footpath.

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