#B31fencegate Public right of way blocked by mystery fence appearance

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The mysterious appearance of a fence, cutting off access to a public footpath, has produced a mixed reaction from local residents and politicians on the Hollymoor Estate in Northfield.

Surprise installation

fencemapSome residents were surprised to see the installation of a new fence between Sedgebourne Way and a public footpath / cycle path which runs through the centre of the estate, having not been informed or consulted. However, others posted more positive reactions on a residents’ private Facebook group, saying the new fence improves the security of the street.

When some residents questioned the arrival with the council and local MP, it quickly became apparent that it may not have been officially installed.

Public right of way

Kevin Hicks, assistant director for highways and infrastructure at Birmingham City Council, said: “This footpath is an adopted public right of way and, as such, should not be blocked by a fence or any other obstacle. The council has not carried out this work[…]”

Shocked & surprised

One anonymous resident was surprised to find the fence blocking a route she often uses. She said: “We weren’t warned nor were there any signs put up to state it would be out of use from a certain date. I assumed it was the council. I’m very shocked.

“The thing is, if someone gets public transport early in the morning or late at night they need to walk through an unlit park rather than up a lighted pathway to get to the bus stop. It doesn’t make any sense” she added.

MP for Northfield, Richard Burden said he was made aware of the fence when some residents contacted his office expressing concerns about access to Hollymoor Medical Centre and bus stops on Tessall Lane.

He said: “This has come as a surprise to me as it is normally quite a long drawn-out procedure to block off public access to footpaths and I don’t recall being told of any decision by the Council (or anyone else) to do so here.

“There have certainly also been concerns in the area about the use of the path for crime and anti-social behaviour but I can’t immediately see that blocking off access to the path from Sedgebourne Way is the right response. There may be other views about that but it all underlines why there should be discussion before action like this is taken.”

Safer & more secure?

A number of other residents, who all wish to remain anonymous, have sent comments supporting the barrier, saying it makes their neighbourhood safer and more secure, reduces antisocial behaviour (including off road motorbikes passing through) and that they believe the benefits outweigh the downfalls.

Below are a selection of those comments:

“As a resident of Sedgebourne Way I think the closure of the walk way is fantastic! We have unfortunately been subject to anti social behaviour including theft over recent months, and I honestly think closing the walk way has helped the situation. The get away is no longer as quick and easy, surely this serves as a deterrent!”

“If someone has complained about it, it can only be due to pure selfishness about walking slightly further with no real regard to the issues it really solves.”

“I’ve since discovered an easier route to the doctors through the park which I didn’t know was there before”

“Since the fence has blocked the access to and from the alleyway, opportunity for crime and motorcycle accidents has reduced.”

“There are often children playing by the old path so this is definitely safer for them.”

“We have to pull together as a community & the railings will not solve everything but its a start!”

“Personally I would like to thank whoever was responsible!”

Permission?

However, although the fence certainly seems to have support from a number of local residents, it would seem that no permission has been sought or consultation made for its installation.

On confirming that the council did not install the fence, highways assistant director Kevin Hicks added: “[Birmingham City Council] will be investigating to find out who did so that appropriate enforcement action can be taken to reinstate this public footpath.”

Longbridge Cllr Ian Cruise said: “This is of course illegal and could lead to the individual(s) responsible being prosecuted.

“If residents wish to contact me regarding the issues/concerns that led to the erection of the fence then I would urge them to email me.  I would rather we look to legally put measures in place rather than risk the prosecution of local residents.”

Cllr Cartwright & Griffiths had visited the site and invited residents who want to discuss the issue to attend Longbridge Ward Forum meeting on Thursday 8 September at 6.30pm at The Hollymoor Centre, 8 Manor Park Grove, B31 5ER

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