Wednesday, 23 January 2013
A guest article from a Dukinfield resident: Public Footpath 27 to be closed
I attended the Speakers Panel (Planning) in the council offices today.
There were a large number of objectors present to the proposed closing off of Public Footpath 27 that runs between Cheetham Hill Rd and Kenyon Avenue. At 200 people per hour at peak times it is one of the busiest (if not THE busiest) and most useful Public Footpaths in the borough.
There were a series of cogent, well argued contributions from those against the proposed closure. First from residents, one in particular had seen evidence from a long standing PCSO for the relevant area who believed there was no particular or significant problem with the path. Then Councillor Clare Reynolds of the Dukinfield/Stalybridge Ward (also representing the views of Councillors Shorrock and Sweeton of the Dukinfield/Stalybridge Ward who were also present) who spoke out strongly and intelligently against the proposed closure.
Then a representative from the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society, who also represented the Ramblers Association gentleman present. Finally a lady from the Pedestrians Association who both gave pertinent, sensible and proportionate comments.
Next the representatives of the far smaller group in favour of the closure (most of whom live next to the path). First came Deputy Leader John Taylor (with policeman in tow) to tell us of various problems 'in the area', some of which may or may not have been directly linked to the path, it was too vague to tell. The policeman echoed much of what councillor Taylor said. Then one resident neighbouring the path spoke of the problems he had encountered.
Any impartial observer would say that those speaking against the closure clearly won the argument. The path provides: access to nearby shops, bus stops and amenities; the 500 metres extra walk each way; the extremely high usage (the speaker from the Ramblers Association who has vast experience of these matters described it as, 'An M1 of a path'); its general usefulness; the principle of allowing criminals to set the agenda at the expanse of the vast majority of law abiding path users, as opposed to actually dealing with the former.
A few seconds (and I mean a few seconds) after these contributions, the panel voted. All but two voted in favour of the closure. This is despite those against the closure clearly winning the argument and the vast majority of public opinion being in favour of keeping the path open. One of the Dukinfield/Stalybridge Ward Councillors told me they had a had a large volume of constituents complaining to them vigorously against the closure.
One Public Footpath in one borough is a microcosm of the approach of the authorities in general. Instead of dealing with criminals and perpetrators by inflicting sufficient punishment, (i.e to reflect the seriousness of a particular offence and crucially, deter others from committing similar offences) they punish the law abiding majority. The same is true of speed bumps, speed cameras and increasingly the criminal justice system in general which is why so many parts of Britain are now no-go areas or blighted with crime. Official 'facts' of crime reduction increasingly bear little relationship to people's everyday experiences.
The video above is of the alleyway which is to be closed. There was a previous article on this blog where the closure was discussed. The previous article can be viewed by clicking here. Tameside Citizen