When I submitted the Right of Way Claim in May 2016, I assumed that the main basis of the claim would be Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980. This was because we knew that the path in question had been (in the words of the Act) "enjoyed by the public as of right and without interruption for a full period of 20 years" at the time the wall was built in March 2016. For this reason, when the LCC Highways Department issued Report No. RS/450/16 in October 2016, we were surprised to read that "the test in the Highways Act 1980 may not be satisfied in view of the claimed challenge to public use by the occupiers and owners of Byron Court". This conclusion seems to have arisen because "the claim by residents of Byron Court that they have challenged users of the path during the above period [March 1996 to March 2016] is acknowledged by one of the user evidence forms".
Having investigated, I discovered that the incident referred to in report RS/450/16 - i.e. the turning back of the grandson of a Glenacres resident - actually took place AFTER the wall was built. I understand that the resident in question, Ms Crumpton, will be describing the incident in detail in her own letter of support for the Modification Order. I therefore see no reason why the Highways Act cannot be used as an argument for designating the path as a Public Right of Way (on the basis of 20 years unhindered use prior to March 2016). Of course, this is in addition to the Common Law argument (unhindered use 1980-2000) which the Council has already accepted.
I know that many other residents will be sending in letters and emails of support for the Modification Order. Perhaps some residents of Byron Court will be sending in letters of objection. In early January 2017 an anonymous letter - claiming to be from a resident of Byron Court - was delivered to all the flats in Glenacres (see copy enclosed as Annex 23). It implies that each lessee will be liable for a legal bill of between £4000 and £5000 in the event of the Public Right of Way being confirmed. If objections to the Modification Order are received, we hope that their factual basis will be checked before any weight is attached to them.
To summarise the current situation, people living in Glenacres, Hollytree Road and elsewhere are now unable (except by means of a lengthy and uncomfortable detour via Woolton Mount, or an even longer detour via Woolton Hill Road or Mount Street) to reach Reynolds Park, the post box in Woolton Park, St Mary's RC Church, St Peter's Church, Bishop Martin School, etc., while people living in the Woolton Park area - including, no doubt, some of the residents of Byron Court itself - face similar detours if they want to reach the Acrefield Road bus stops or the shops and other amenities of Woolton Village. We ask that the Modification Order be confirmed, and the wall removed or modified, as soon as possible.
THE GATEACRE SOCIETY