Closing the Roads

Talking to some friends from Church this week, we got a slightly odd request. They asked that we write to the local council to tell them that we used the road outside their house in a car when we visited them…

The reason is actually quite serious. As you may know, Finchampstead includes the Finchampstead Ridges, much of which is owned by the National Trust. However the land is also criss-crossed with a number of ancient rights of way. Whilst many of these ancient routes have been brought up to modern standards, quite a few, especially in and around the ridges, are just tracks. However, as ancient rights of way, legally anybody can use them, and with the rise in 4×4 vehicles, this is becoming a problem. As this article last year said, the government is tightening up the laws.

However this has had an unfortunate side effect for our friends, as their house is along one of these ancient rights of way that has not been adopted by the council. The council appear to be just applying the new restrictions in a blanket manner, offering the possibility of it being illegal for our friends to drive their car to their house, rather than adopting the relevant bits of road to allow the residents access. Typically this is getting down to political mud slinging. The Conservative run council line seems to be that they are only following government instructions, so it isn’t their fault. However having been on the recieving end of the council refusing to adopt our road until the street lights were sorted to “save money for our taxpayers”, and the whole fishing expedition with the trees last year (note that neither the developer, or the council has cut them back – it should have been done within 14 days of the notice being issued), I suspect money may be coming in to play here – as if the council were to adopt all the local roads they would need to, it again would cost a lot to do.

Of course whether you blame the government for a poorly constructed law, or the council for screwing their residents to save cash, that still leaves people like our friends with the prospect of having a house that they can’t get to…

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