Friday, 22 November 2013
'I confirm the Order' : 20 November 2013
Photographs I took in 1999 and 2003 of the point where Lenton meets The Park Estate. I took these photographs from Park Road in Lenton. On the other side of the bollards and subsequent gate is Lenton Road and The Park Estate.
Rarely have four words sounded so sweet. As the messenger said, 'Enjoy the report Robert' and I did, as I read it yesterday afternoon. What am I referring to?
Well, it's the outcome of the public local inquiry held during July 2013 into an public footpath order made by Nottingham City Council in February 2009 that a footpath over land known as Park Road and Lenton Road between Lenton and Nottingham city centre via The Park Estate was a public right-of-way.
I have copied the Inspector's report to its own page in the right-hand column.
In 2003 The Park Estate put the gate in place, but only started to lock it in 2009, which brought matters to a head and the City Council finally issued its Order that it was a registered public footpath. This resulted in quite a few objections, so the Order was called in and became the subject of the Inquiry held earlier this year.
After 1999, the Forum got our city councillors and the City Council involved and The Park Estate then did nothing and the matter rested for a number of years, with Lenton residents, like myself, watching for signs of action — which is how I came to write the subsequent ‘In My Opinion’ column for News From The Forum No.44, published in January 2009. During the intervening years I stayed in contact with Nottingham City Council, my local ward councillors and Member of Parliament, who were all very supportive and shared the Lenton view that the disputed footpath was an historic right-of-way.
The making of the Order in 2009 had in origins back in 1999 when The Park Estate put up a notice saying that there was no right-of-way and that they intended to restrict public use of the route. In my then capacity as Chair of the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum, I objected and wrote the lead article published on the front page of News From The Forum No.7, published by the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum, in October 1999 headed ‘Berlin Wall for Lenton?’ My report drew attention to the ‘Proposed closure’ notice posted by The Park Estate in May 1999 and opposition from some Park Estate residents (although a good few also supported the Order).
For some time now, this blog has had a summary of my evidence to the Inquiry on its own blog page (see right-hand column). There is something sweet about seeing your evidence quoted back at you by the Inquiry Inspector and knowing that you also played a role in the evidence of others.
Of all the paragraphs in the Inspector's decision, it is paragraph 39 which gives me the greatest satisfaction: The Park Estate argued that if a public footpath existed, it was only on the south side of Lenton Road, whereas the City Council argued that further to a decision made in 1901 there was 'good authority for a presumption that following the laying out of lenton Road the full width became a public footpath'. The Inspector decision says 'It is clear that the whole of Lenton Road was laid out before 1861 and I see no reason to doubt that the Duke (of Newcastle) was capable of the presumed dedication when the road was set out'.
There has been talk that if The Park Estate lost they would apply for a 'gating order' on grounds of anti-social behaviour because the footpath increases the crime rate along Lenton Road. By saying the footpath is the full width of the road, this should make such an order impossible. It is one thing to gate an alley, but there must be a good few roads in Nottinghamshire with more problems than Lenton Road, so should all these roads be gated as well? Of course not, but for the record I will ask Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire's Police Commissioner, to tell me where Lenton Road ranks in terms of total recorded offences, prosecutions and convictions in total and in relation to property numbers. I suspect Lenton Road will not rank that high.
The word which comes to mind in all this is tenacity, especially on the part of the City Council's Footpath Officer, John Lee, who first visited the site of the above photographs with me in 1999, and Dunkirk and Lenton's city councillors, especially Dave Trimble, who had to put up with me bending his ear on a good few occasions. To sit through three days of the Inquiry in the company of other Lenton residents I have known for many years, and who also gave evidence in support of the Order, was probably the best thing about the three days and I suspect that the four words 'I confirm the Order' are as sweet for them as they have been for me.
Finally, a special word of thanks to John Lee and his colleagues for all their hard work and support.