Description

BADFA

Bushey and District Footpaths Association

BADFA is a Registered Charity committed to caring for public rights of way
Centred in Bushey, Hertfordshire, but taking a wide view. Incorporating Watford Fieldpath Association (Founded 1898)
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Bride Street
Public Path
Bushey 50



One up on the kitchen sink.
Some 2004 dumping at the Elstree Road end of this ancient path

Note at May 2016

Eleven years on, the saga continues, but unreported here. For example hay bales were a new obstruction technique a couple of years ago.

Note at March 2005

County responded to the notices just in time. But despite explicit words and explanatory photographs having been sent to them, their response didn't tie in with the routes on our notices. Their legal officer kindly agreed to change the HCC responses to more clearly reflect the schedules of our notices. It is now (March162005) two weeks later and we have so far heard nothing.

Note at February 2005

There has been no progress at all so BADFA has served two formal notices on the County Council.

These are underSection56 of the Highways Act 1980 and the council is obliged to reply within 30 days. Our subsequent action will depend on their replies. What we would really like is for them to work with us to get this path up to National Target standard, that is fully defined (width to local guidelines, structures etc defined) and all in good order (no barbed wire on or close to the path etc). This would have been easy in 2002, harder now, but by no means impossible.



















































































































































































































































We have not been called to give evidence at the impending prosecution, has County decided to back off?And if so why? BADFA feels that the degree of obstruction fully warrants prosecution in the public interest. We have asked the County Council for an update.

Bride Street to May 2003 End of April 2003 comment

Since December 2002 this path has been obstructed, initially 100% obstructed. Our Highway Authority declined to prosecute. They also declined to remove the lock which blocked passage, or to authorise BADFA their Parish Path Partner to remove it. BADFA believes these things are not in accord with County's statutory duties.

Despite users explaining, with case law examples, why they believe that the County Council legal department is misinterpreting the law, County delays answering. The Good Practice Guide, the officers' 'bible', is supposed to be updated when necessary. We think it has been demonstrated to be necessary here, but no changes seem to have been made.

Meanwhile County discusses options to help the landowner and the tenant under (optional) statutory powers, something that does not sit comfortably with the apparent neglect of the higher priority statutory duties of the Highways Act and with the Send case.

BADFA gave notice that we were most unhappy with the total blockage and our committee subsequently reaffirmed that. We asked that under the threat of prosecution the landowner would be asked to dedicate, for the avoidance of doubt, a standard width (that is at least the target minimum footpath width used by the Borough for planning purposes and which is slightly less than BADFA's preferred width). We asked that any structures at both ends of this path be sorted out and that any structures authorised should be to the British Standard BS5709:2001 which County says they normally require. None of this appears to be happening.

Nevertheless we were heartened to hear a few weeks ago that legal proceedings were to be started.

Now we see that two kissing-gates have appeared. They are off the route of the path and certainly not to the British Standard, nor do they appear to be sheep proof, despite sheep-proofness, we thought, being the sole justification for them.. Will County give the gates more than a cursory glance before approving them?

The users of this path, part of the London Loop, may never think, as they fiddle with the jammed latches, and wade through the undergrowth, of what might have been had County Hall's policies taken proper account of the needs and legitimate requests of their customers, the path users.

Are legal proceedings continuing? We greatly hope so, but we fear we might be disappointed..

Below are items on this path that also appear under News on this web site prior to mid May 2003.



March 2003 and earlier

20 tonnes of aggregate has recently been dumped on this troubled path.

We suspected County, but now think it was the Environment Agency, they are doing works near the A41/Elstree Road roundabout. We have of course reported it but since none of the obstructions put up on this path over recent years (except one padlock) have been removed we are not holding our breath.






















The path, footpath Bushey 50, leads off the Elstree Road and skirts the Orthopaedic Hospital on its way to Stanmore Common. It has recently been signposted as part of the London Walking Loop. It may in fact be the remains of a Roman flanking road for Watling Street.

There is a long history of obstructions on this path. The last major one, an unlawful stile, was reported to County over two years ago. BADFA then offered to help resolve the problem but our offer was refused and nothing has been done.

This latest obstruction (photo above) was different in that it completely blocked the path (except for a 10 inch gap at the end that some people could squeeze through). BADFA expected County to act quickly to at least make it usable. Because the Christmas and New Year holidays were coming up and people were bound to use it BADFA offered to act for County and cut the lock. We could have done it within hours, but we were refused. And County themselves refused our request to take direct action and amazingly gave the obstructer two weeks to open it; two weeks when a twist of a key could make it usable again.

BADFA thinks this lack of action is contrary to County's clear Statutory Duty. The officer involved believes she is bound by the County's Good Practice Guide to use the Statutory Notice mechanism rather than just taking direct action. County own the freehold of the air and the soil of the path and so have full power to remove the obstruction. BADFA strongly supports the idea of the Good Practice Guide but not the notion that it should be blindly followed so as to prejudice the public's use of the paths.

There is no alternative path nearby and people would have had to turn round and walk back to Stanmore Common, a substantial distance.

But what happened was that people broke down a wooden post and mesh fence in order to pass. They could easily have injured themselves in doing this and they are also in danger of a charge of criminal damage. Indeed a path user a few years ago was so charged in a not dissimilar case less than a mile away.

It seems that County chooses to blindly follow the rule book even when it puts the public not only to great inconvenience but to actual risk.

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A County spokesman was said by the Watford Observer to have said three things about this situation: 1. Referring to the action by the public: " anyone who damages or removes someone else's property is committing an offence ". This is not necessarily true at all, though of course it may be; and the criminal damage charge, mentioned above, resulted in an acquittal. 2. " the Authority could not remove the obstruction as it did not own the land, only the footpath " see Ownership in our legal section, the footpath includes the airspace above as needed, and this statement is entirely untrue. 3. " landowners are entitled to erect gates over footpaths to prevent animals from roaming ". Also totally untrue, landholders may apply in certain circumstances for permission, which does not have to be granted. In this case roaming animals were not involved as there is another fence for that purpose, so no authorisation could properly have be given.

County have since confirmed that their press spokesman's words as reported do, in their view, capture the essence of the problem, and they would not wish to change them.

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The gate has had its padlock removed and a better way has been cleared at the side. We think that probably happened on 16th or 17 January and that the tenant farmer broke the lock in the absence of the owner, though we are not certain of these matters. That is over three weeks since the date when BADFA offered to break the lock, and one whole path-users holiday period later. If it can be done now, why not then? The barbed wire and stile further in remain in place.







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This is the path County expect the public to use at 3 June 2004
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Another view of the route which County says is the path. Our access officer, invited to walk it a couple of weeks ago, refused. But it still hasn't been cleared. It would be a trivial task for BADFA to clear the bit from the far side of the bush to the road. We have insurance, we have the tools. We used to clear this area of the path, but we are so angry at being let down by County over this path year on year on year (the politicians do this too, say it three times and it somehow sounds better) that we might well refuse (but we might not and it would be nice to be asked).
Update at May 2004 following our Parish Path Partner meeting: We welcome a new officer, Dawn Grocock, who has taken over Bushey for the County Council. John Carleton and Chris Beney walked part of this path with her on 24th May 2004. She must be about the sixth officer to be involved with this path over the years of problems and we hope she will be the first successful one.

Current position is that County feels only able to enforce a two metre wide path. Normally we would go along with this as there is often no way of enforcing wider but on this path it would have been easy to get a decent width because of the leverage due to the criminal actions of the underlying landholder, and there have actually been two recent chances to define the path legally to the local custom of at least four metres. County has fluffed both these chances. We feel seriously let down by this.

But even accepting a measly two metres we see it as perverse that County have not selected the two metre strip which includes the wide concrete strip walked by many/most people. Instead they have chosen a rough piece of land with trees and scrub and uneven surface. The way is impassable eighteen months after the major obstruction of December 2002 and has never been usable during that period. Worse, the fence with kissing gate that County erected or approved or allowed (no one seems to know which) completely blocks this two metre strip and path users are forced to move onto the concrete strip to proceed, which would, if County's view on width were correct, be to trespass.

The concrete path is rather ugly and the strip of greenery greatly enhances it. If County continues on their course they will have to raze all the shrubs to the ground. We had explicitly asked them not to.

Maintenance costs will be substantial because of the annual growth, compared with zero if the concrete strip had been chosen.

We gave the previous officer lots of leeway, a formal letter December 2003, a verbal reminder around February 2004 when we had got no reply (whatever happened to the Charter Mark?). Now at our annual review (May 2004) we are no further forward. We may now have to enter the complaints process. If HCC were to accept that the old walked line and the more recent concrete line amounted to four metres width, and if they were to enforce that width, allowing a field gate next to the pavement (beside the kissing gate) preferably replacing that kissing gate with a standard 900mm gap, we would be content, though we would also ask for the second kissing gate to be put the right way round and the latch removed.

This path is, we think, an old Roman side road and it was put on the original definitive map as a CRB (carriage road used as public bridleway). It is currently part of the London Walking Loop, and joins Bushey to Stanmore Common.

Come on County, play fair.

This may well be a very ancient path. Some say that Boadicea (Boudicca) used this route when she was wreaking revenge on the Romans for their brutality and unfairness to her and to her daughters.

This path forms part of the London Loop.

This path has had unauthorised structures for the landholders sole benefit put up from time to time for many years. A couple of years ago BADFA offered to sort out the issues, but we were refused and we were told that County would do it soon. No sorting out was done and in late 2002 the path was totally blocked for no obvious reason at all. That could have been sorted out quickly and quite easily, but that was not done either. It may still not be too late to sort it out properly, but hopes are fading. We are entering the saga stage now with it and in view of the inevitable mix of opinion and fact and of its importance as part of the London Loop it is felt that Bride Street warrants its own page here, rather than just staying as items in our news stories.

The path raises legal issues of general importance. Some of these are discussed under 'abatement' in our legal pages.
2003
17 May 2003 More obstruction and bodged gates.
May 2003 This page was started.




















Where is this public path? East of Bushey Heath on the Elstree Road Just before that road goes under the M1 And just alongside the Gas Line site (shown yellow on map)
It continues south into Harrow Borough and up the hill to Stanmore Common.
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17 May 2003

More obstruction and bodged gatesCopying the Environment Agency, someone has dumped bricks

Someone has put two kissing gates up which fail the British Standard on several counts, one being barbedwire which is forbidden. And the access to the main (concrete) path is already overgrown and part of the route has trees and what is suspected to be Giant Hogweed on it.
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This locked gate and welded fence has been put up by someone quite recently.
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