Diane AndrewesA ten-year footpath campaign will culminate tomorrow in a public inquiry.

Diane Andrewes Photo: David Andrewes

Activist Diane Andrewes was forced to go it alone after her local council refused to back her crusade to have two popular paths recorded as rights of way. The routes lead to the foreshore of the River Hamble in Bursledon, Hampshire, near the Jolly Sailor pub.

The national campaign group the Open Spaces Society is backing her bid to have the paths added to the definitive maps of the area, meaning they would be recorded as public rights of way. Ms Andrewes is a member of the society.

She said: “This has been a ten-year campaign, and at last it is reaching fruition. In 1999 I submitted evidence to Hampshire County Council, the highway authority, to show that the public has walked these paths for 20 years, without being stopped or asking permission, and that therefore they should be recorded as public highways.

“Hampshire took seven years to decide not to proceed with this case, so I had to appeal to the Secretary of State for Environment, who directed the council to make an order to add the paths to the map. Because the order was opposed there is to be a public inquiry to test my evidence that the paths should be recorded.

The Jolly Sailor footpath“Hampshire County Council intends to adopt a neutral stance at the inquiry, instead of backing my claim. So I shall have to argue the case before the inspector without the council’s assistance.”

The Jolly Sailor footpath

Photo: David Andrewes

“The two paths run from Lands End Road, then they join and drop steeply down to the pub and the River Hamble foreshore.

“This stretch of foreshore has been an area of immense shipbuilding and public activity for centuries – for launching boats, children’s play, shell gathering, paddling, fishing and yachting. It is high time these well used paths giving access to the river are recognised as public highways, and I intend to make a strong case for them at the public inquiry.”

The OSS general secretary Kate Ashbrook criticised the delay in bringing the case. She said:  “We fully support Diane in her efforts, but it is a great pity that such claims take so long to process. Many less determined people would have given up after ten years, and witnesses can move away or die.

“We should like to see highway authorities giving greater priority to processing claims to add paths to the definitive maps, in accordance with their legal duty.”

The public inquiry will take place tomorrow, Tuesday 9 September at 10 am at Hamble-Le-Rice Parish Council Memorial Hall.