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Local footpaths finally open again.

After more than 7 years of persistence by The Ramblers, 3 public footpaths near Newchapel, Lingfield have finally become accessible again.

It was in November 2009 that a local resident contacted The Ramblers'  Local Footpath Secretary, Tony Pearson, about the state of these paths. A riding stables and school had been created across the route of one path, forcing walkers to go around the boundary, which was totally overgrown. Two other local paths joined in a paddock that had been made by erecting a fence behind a large house and garden with no gates or stiles to enable walkers to continue the route. With no waymark posts nearby, most walkers would assume that they were entering private property and would turn back.

Having reported 15 different path defects to Surrey County Council, Tony Pearson was dissatisfied that the Council staff had taken no action to resolve the problems and so he approached the local County Council Committee to try and get some action. In December 2015 the Committee instructed their Countryside staff to resolve the matter but it was only in July 2017 that the paths once again became accessible after negotiations with the landowners and with Ramblers' volunteers helping to erect waymark posts and clear overgrown vegetation.

In August, having led a group of 19 East Surrey Walkers along the paths, Tony said “It has been a very frustrating experience trying to get the County Council to deal with these problems. I gained the impression that Council staff did not treat this as a priority because the paths were not being used. But this is a chicken and egg situation; unless the paths are accessible, walkers are not going to use them.” The photograph shows a group of East Surrey Walkers in front of the fence that had previously prevented walkers continuing on the route.

Article and photo by Tony Pearson

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