THE occupier of Hampton Mill has set out the parameters which will see unfettered access restored to public paths in the area.

Frances Payne, who lives in Hampton Mill, acknowledges being responsible for denying access by padlocking a gate and putting up barbed wire, fencing and notices to keep out.

The area going past her home is legitimately shut with approval from Worcestershire County Council until June 4.

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Mrs Payne had said she wanted an alternative route to be found due to “constant” problems such as people taking illegal substances, assault, theft and vandalism but now acknowledges “things have calmed down and people are starting to behave themselves”.

She says she still needs to “consider my safety first” before confirming the path will reopen but, subject to “due process” that “it is on track for June 4”.

Mrs Payne says paths on the other side of the mill are not currently blocked but that she is obtaining legal advice after the county council “cut down fencing that was nowhere near the footpath(s) that they had no right to cut down”, checking her position with regard to her right to temporarily close these paths for fixed periods.

The key issue is over the installation of kissing gates – a hinged gate that swings between two enclosed shutting posts – or stiles that would enable Mrs Payne to have livestock on her land.

“I have put in a formal complaint over them not responded to the request to put in gates,” she said.

“I have done everything off my own back but if I put up a style, they (the county council) will probably rip it down because it won’t be to their specifications.

“I have been told – and a friend of mine has had a similar warning – not to do it. We have asked them provide the gates and I will put them in but they haven’t done that.

“It would not stop access but it would stop bicycles, motorbikes and it would mean I could stock my land with sheep. They have no right to prevent that but I can’t do that because there are no gates.

“It is getting beyond the pale. There was even a motorbike running through there on Monday night.”

“I am mid-battle with the council on that. I have applied twice to put up gates and styles to ensure my safety and make it possible for the path to stay open.”

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council confirmed the authorised closure of one section of the footpath.

“These works are due to be completed before the notice of closure has expired on 4 June 2021 and, once completed, the footpath will reopen,” they said.

Mrs Payne’s claims over the removal of fencing and her complaint over requests for gates have yet to be addressed by the county council.