STALYBRIDGE residents are battling to reopen a footpath they claim has been illegally blocked.
The path, which provides a short cut between Mottram Road and Woodend Drive, cannot be used after gates were placed at either end of a narrow passage between two homes.
It leads to an area of land yards from Mottram Road that has been bought at auction by resident Bill McCallum who has lived within 50 metres of the site for 73 years.
Mr McCallum, who has put up the gates, said he has no plans for the plot of land which is a steep, grassed area containing a number of trees.
Paul White, who lives off Blundering Lane, is one of 30 residents who have objected to the blocking of the path he has been using since 1992.
He says the gates were put up over the August bank holiday weekend and, despite representations to Tameside Council over the legality, they remain in place.
Paul said: “It is also my understanding Tameside Council issued an enforcement notice giving the developer 28 days to clear the obstruction until a proper decision is made.
“Not only were the obstructions not removed, they were added to by an unsightly piece of black-painted timber which is itself an eyesore.”
Paul added it is his understanding the developer sent Tameside Council a solicitor’s letter and since then nothing has happened.
Another resident, who did not want to be identified, claimed to have evidence the path has been used by locals for more than 55 years.
The resident added it is not an official right of way or public footpath but, as it has been used for more than half a century, the public have a right to continue using it.
“The landowner is within his rights to do what he has done as it is not a right of way or public path, something we are pushing for,” they explained.
“If it was a designated public footpath I am sure Tameside Council would have acted. It takes time and we have to be patient, but I am confident we will get it opened again.”
The Correspondent contacted Mr McCallum who confirmed he bought the land from Tameside Council by public auction and he put up the gates which he says have twice been ripped down.
He confirmed he had been issued with an enforcement notice but his solicitor had written to Tameside Council in response and he was waiting for a reply.
A Tameside Council spokesman said: “Residents submitted an application to have the route added as a public footpath, and this is being processed.
“In the meantime – and given the evidence submitted in support of the route being reclassified – Tameside Council wanted to restore the status quo of the situation, and so served notice on the landowner to remove the obstruction. This led to a legal challenge which caused a delay.
“A letter has now been sent to the landowner’s lawyers asking they remove the obstruction pending the outcome of the public right of way application.”