A REQUEST to reroute the controversially blocked path at Hampton Mill is unlikely to be granted according to Councillor Peter Griffiths.

Occupier Frances Payne earlier this week revealed she had shut the path once again citing vandalism and the “deliberate” releasing of her livestock.

READ MORE: Hampton Mill path shut again - occupier wants path permanently rerouted 

Paths around the Evesham beauty spot had previously been blocked by barbed wire fencing and locked gates, although parts of the right of way were legitimately closed until June 4 for remedial work.

Since then, kissing gates have been installed by Worcestershire County Council, the authority in charge of the right of way, on one side of the mill with Mrs Payne putting up a permanent metal fence on the other. Each of those were open but have since been padlocked.

Mrs Payne said she had reported both more recent matters to the police and council and “put in a request to move the footpath”.

“I have raised the question of permanently relocating the path,” said Cllr Griffiths.

“That is an ancient byway, the county is looking at it but it does not have power to move the path. There is a set procedure to move a right of way and it involves a public hearing.

“It is down to the general public at that hearing to make that decision. I feel there is very slim change of any relocation order being successful after due process because of the history of it and the residents objecting.

“You cannot anticipate what would happen but we do have to weigh up the complexity of the process and it is not something the county council or the landowner can just do.

“Then the question arises as to who would pay for that. As it stands the landowner would have to pay and I don’t know what the likelihood of that would be.”

Cllr Griffiths reiterated his call for calm and for users of the path to respect the fact that it runs through private land but that the council would continue “pursuing their obligations to maintain the right of way”.

“They do monitor the situation daily and I provide the rights of way officer with the evidence that gets presented to me on a day-to-day basis,” he added.

“They are definitely pursuing their obligations to maintain the right of way. The problem is it takes a matter of seconds to snap on a padlock but for us to remove them legally, you are probably talking about two or three weeks of legal work.

“All they can do is attend to situations as they arise. The council cannot be stationed there permanently monitoring every move."

Cllr Griffiths also said: “It is not the council’s responsibility to resolve Mrs Payne’s problems, the council’s responsibility is to maintain the right of way in accordance with the law.

“I’ve have written many times to try to ensure people understand that this is a public right of way over private land and people should respect it as such.

“I think it is very unfortunate if a very small minority of people are, as is alleged, cutting down fences or other things to upset Mrs Payne. I would appeal to people not to do that."