NEW Worcestershire County councillor Peter Griffiths expects "fairly swift" action from officers over access to footpaths at Hampton Mill but called for "time and space to deal with it" from the public.

There has been uproar over occupier Frances Payne denying access by padlocking a gate and putting up barbed wire, fencing and notices to keep out, citing “constant” problems such as people taking illegal substances, assault, theft and vandalism.

READ MORE: REVEALED - What it will take for Hampton Mill occupier to keep paths open

The path past Mrs Payne's home is legitimately closed for repair until June 4 but the blocking of other rights of way have proved a real bone of contention.

Cllr Griffiths, who was sworn in this week, understands “police are down there on a regular basis” on the back of “pretty serious” allegations which he has been presented with “certain evidence” of.

“I have said to the leader of the council that I will be looking for a robust response on the issue," he said.

“There does not seem to be any doubt that it is a public right of way and therefore no one has the right to block it.

“The county council has its legal responsibilities to deal with that, I am sure they are full aware of the exact situation and taking whatever steps they are able to.

“I have had lots of people getting in touch, it is causing a lot of anger locally and in some cases a certain amount of hysteria. There have been all sorts of allegations that it would not be right for me to comment on because I don’t know whether they are fact or fiction but I understand there have been breaches of the peace down there.

“This is a matter that has to be sorted out, primarily by the people responsible for the public footpath."

Asked what his message would be to frustrated residents, Cllr Griffiths replied: “Please don’t take any form of vigilante action. It will only exacerbate what is already a delicate situation.

“Please allow the authorities the time and space to deal with it as they should.”

On whether he anticipates a quick resolution, Cllr Griffiths said: “I would anticipate fairly swift action from the county council but there are two sides to every argument and while one side could act quickly, the other side could drag it out so it is impossible to say.

“As far as I know this has been rumbling on for a while now. It is very unfortunate that access to a well-known and loved beauty spot is being spoiled by this.”

Cllr Griffiths added he would not see it is a appropriate to liaise with Mrs Payne directly before establishing the legal facts but said he “might consider” doing so as and when the facts present themselves.

“There is a clear, legal right of way and the exact facts around that have to be established," he said.

“What I can do is make sure the county council officers give it their fullest and urgent attention."