OSS general secretary Kate AshbrookRights-of-way campaigners have expressed dismay at a refusal to stop a footpath being moved.

OSS general secretary Kate Ashbrook

The decision follows a fight to save a path alongside the Old Turbary Drain at Epworth in North Lincolnshire, which local walkers say had been partially blocked by a householder extending his garden across it. The Open Spaces Society says the new route is inferior.

Graham Wager, a local member of the OSS, had joined residents to force a public inquiry into the case, but the inspector ruled that the path be moved. North Lincolnshire Council refused to order the route to be reopened.

Mr Wager said: “We are deeply disappointed that the inspector at the public inquiry, Mr Mark Yates, has agreed with the council that the path should be moved instead of fully reopened.

“The owners of Starcross, Mr and Mrs Storer, claimed that the path compromised their privacy and security, but they produced no evidence to this effect.

“Furthermore we had evidence that the proposed new route is already a public highway, having been used by people for five years. So moving the route will in fact lead to the loss of a route. But the inspector did not accept our argument.”

The OSS’s general secretary Kate Ashbrook agreed: “We are sad that local people have lost their much loved path. They have walked along the western side of the drain for as long as anyone can remember.

“We congratulate Graham and other local people for putting up such a good fight and are sorry that they have lost.  They have not been well served by North Lincolnshire Council.”