Establish a direct, safe footpath between Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck, Cumbria
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Caldbeck Parish Council has prepared detailed plans for a footpath and has the resources to construct it, thanks to a generous gift of £100,000 specifically for the construction. But it needs Cumbria County Council to support the project through a Footpath Creation Order. Eight of ten landowners are happy with the proposals. Having initially agreed to the route, two landowners have now said no.
A footpath alongside the 1 mile lane between Caldbeck and Hesket Newmarket was the main request from a referendum which informed the Caldbeck Parish Plan 2005 - 2015, identified by 173 of 200 households. This winding country road, regularly used by pedestrians, is barely wide enough for two cars to pass, with no verges along most stretches, making it dangerous for people on foot with reports of near misses. The proposed path would provide a safe, direct, easy to walk footpath between the two villages, which would also be wheelchair friendly and suitable for cyclists.
Since requesting support, Cumbria County Council officers have been reluctant to get involved, showing a negative attitude. Whilst sympathetic to the merits of the footpath, County Council officers have said 'no' to any support: they point out they have a power but not a duty to pursue an Order, they have other high priority work, and they are concerned that an Order might be challenged. The County Council would prefer all landowners to be in agreement but if there were such agreement then there would be no need for an Order. The Parish Council has sought agreement at all points but without success to date.
Caldbeck Parish Council says it's now essential for the County Council to give support, using its powers where necessary, and work with the Lake District National Park and ourselves. The National Park would provide the staff resources but in the event of an Inquiry, the County Council would need to fund legal costs. Defending the Order would incur costs of costs of up to £10,000 and if the Order were not confirmed costs might be up to £30,000. These sums are relatively small for the County Council and by working together costs and risks would be minimised. Working collaboratively for the footpath meets the County Council’s aspiration to be an organisation that: ‘listens to communities and involves people in the decisions that affect their lives’ and ‘works in partnership’.
The Parish Council’s objective is to establish a lasting asset largely funded by a gift for the benefit of the local community and visitors for generations to come. A Footpath Creation Order is now required for the project to proceed. Please add your weight to our request that Cumbria County Council supports the Footpath Creation Order and underwrites possible legal costs. Without this support the £100,000 donation will be returned and pedestrians using the road will continue to be at risk. The Parish Council is not currently looking to raise funds - but the more signatures there are for the petition, together with supportive comments, the greater the pressure on the County Council.
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