Acomb Moor footpath problems continue

Its over 4 months since Councillors told residents that a blocked Public Right of Way (PROW) would be reopened . The access to Acomb Moor from Foxwood Lane had been via a stile for over 20 years.

It gradually fell into disrepair and the Council declined to stabilise it.

An application to define the route as a PROW was submitted in late 2018 and supported by the Council some 12 months later.

Shortly afterwards the tenant farmer blocked the access with a large tree trunk. He went on to plant crops in the field (for the first time in over 25 years).

Local residents agreed to use a footpath route which skirted around the outside of the field and this has become a well established exercise route during the lockdown period.

Unfortunately an assurance from local Councillors – that the tree trunk would be moved to allow for single file pedestrian access – was not fulfilled. As a result an new access point has now been forced near the Askham Lane junction.

Of more concern, many walkers are now trying to climb a 5 bar metal gate. A potentially hazardous activity for the elderly and infirm.

There are other points on the route which have also fallen into a, potentially hazardous, state of disrepair.

There are easy and relatively cheap solutions to this problem. The Lockdown period has simply reinforced the importance of informal walking routes near the City.

The Council should act now to make these footpaths accessible and safe.

Acomb Moor update

The local residents association have added their weight to calls for access to Acomb Moor to be made safer.

Access to Acomb Moor still blocked

They have written to local Councillors making the following points.

  1. The tree trunk blocking the access needs to be moved by about 1 foot to allow pedestrian access. We understand that Andrew has this in hand. If the field tenants won’t do it then 2 or 3 fit people should be able to roll the log. The stile then needs to be reinstated
  2. The route across the field could then be re-established. Pragmatically a line down the side of the field – parallel to Foxwood Lane – could be established to link with the desire line path which is now clearly marked at the bottom of the field. (It will be for the owners to apply for a formal PROW diversion order if they wish to discourage people for walking through, what will presumably by the spring be, a cropped field). Obviously the current practice of people climbing over a 1.5 metre high metal gate is potentially hazardous and precludes some less ambient residents (who ironically are perhaps those most needing access to informal walking options) from using the paths.
  3. The stile at the bottom corner needs to be repaired and hardcore put on the approaches.
  4. Neither of the access points to the Council owned section of the path near Osprey Close have had the promised hardcore put down. Both these paths are narrow and on a gradient, They will become increasingly slippery in poor winter weather. So some action needs to be taken now.
  5. Further along the path near and in Acomb Wood there are sections which are subject to flooding and which would also benefit from having hardcore put down.
Stile needs repairs and hardcore underneath
Access points from Osprey Close are hazardous in wet weather.

Council confirm Acomb Moor footpath routes

The background papers for last weeks meeting which supported the designation of a public right of way across Acomb Moor have been published.

They can be found by clicking here

The papers contain one surprise as an additional leg (B – D) has been added to the route covered by the application. It now also includes a path located to the rear of existing houses in the area.

More details can be found on the Foxwood Residents Association Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FoxwoodResidentsAssociation

There is an urgent need to get a safe access to the path restored as quickly as possible.

The access route from Osprey Close needs safety improvements. It is overgrown and can be hazardous in wet weather.

Foxwood Lane to Osprey Close footpath application gains Council support

According to the Foxwood Residents Association Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FoxwoodResidentsAssociation the Council has approved the making of an order which should – eventually – see the footpath added to local maps.

Acomb Moor public right of way – decision

Our application to have the route from Foxwood Lane to Osprey Close – across Acomb Moor – recognised has passed another hurdle.

We understand that at a private meeting held on Tuesday Council officials decided to make a definitive map modification order (DMMO). The order should be made and published within the next few months. This would mean that the Public Right of Way route would be added to footpath maps.

The meeting was held behind closed doors and no agenda was published. This meant that interested parties were not able to make (further) representations. We understand that the background  papers may not be published on the Councils website until next week.

We understand that initial consultation and review of the available evidence was completed and it was apparent that there is sufficient evidence to “reasonably allege that a public right of way subsists over the application route”. Under these circumstances the Council is required to make a DMMO by section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

There will be a period of time during which objections to the designation can be made. If any objections are not subsequently withdrawn then the matter is referred to the Secretary of State for determination. This sometimes results in a Public Inquiry.

Footpath line before the field was ploughed

So it could be several months before the issue is entirely resolved.

In the meantime we have asked the Council to take steps to ensure that public access to the path is available for the point on Foxwood Lane where the stile used to be located (currently blocked by a tree trunk).

NB. We hope that the promised extension of the York Strays will include at least part of Acomb Moor. It is already used as an informal “country park”, is an important leisure area  for the neighbourhood, it falls within the Green Belt and is on the most accessible side of the A1237.  There is considerable scope for promoting conservation of flora and fauna in the area not least through re-establishing hedgerows where they have disappeared”.

York Council to buy 150 acres of agricultural land for new forest.

Refuses to reveal location but cost will be £1.65 million!

The Forest GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

In one of the most bizarre proposals to come before the York Council, officials are recommending buying agricultural land “within the York boundary” which will subsequently be planted with trees. It says only that it is located in the Green Belt.

The forest scheme is intended to offset a proportion of the CO2 emissions generated within the City.

The Council says it can’t reveal the location of the new forest “for commercial reasons”.

While many residents will support the objective of the initiative, the lack of background information on the scheme is extraordinary.

There is no indication of the grade of the agricultural land in question. At a time when greater food self sufficiency is a high priority for the country, relative priorities must surely be fully evaluated before productive land is lost?

The report also says that the new forest – which might be designated as a “stray” – will provide new accessible paths and trails for York residents.

Officials point to the health benefits of greater exercise.

They are right, of course, as we have seen during lock-down. But the Council’s position lacks credibility as it has failed to maintain existing paths and trails, some of which are now inaccessible because of neglect.

The absence of any maintenance and management strategy for any new wood is one of the major omissions from the report.

The Council also quotes (rightly) the need to encourage pollinators (bees and other insects) but again fails to evaluate the effect that planting more woodland would have against providing – for example – wildflower meadows on the land.

In total the Council expects to spend £3 million on establishing new woodland and strays around the City.

It will need to do a lot more work, if taxpayers are to be convinced that this is an effective, and thoroughly thought through, reaction to the global conservation challenge.

NB. In the Westfield area, local Councillors promised 12 months ago to promote the adoption of “stray” status for Acomb Moor. There has been no recent update on the progress that they have made.

More farming on Acomb Moor

The field at the top of Foxwood Lane which was ploughed a couple of weeks ago has now been levelled.

There is a narrow footpath being worn around the outside of the field but there is still no safe access.

We hope that any outstanding issues are resolved following a Council decision meeting which is taking place on Tuesday.

Better facilities for walkers needed

The latest Council funding bid offers little hope for those wanting to do more walking in the wake of the health crisis. Many had, during the lockdown, made a start by making more use of local Public Rights of Ways.

These include the network of paths which link Acomb Moor to Acomb Wood. Nearby the rural section of Askham Lane was also well used as was the Westfield/Grange Lane Park links.

None of these has received any funding for improvements to access gates, signage or even by putting hard core down on sections liable to flooding. A few hundred pounds invested in paths located in the suburbs would make a lot of difference. A £500,000 budget, intended for walking and cycling improvements, has already been allocated mainly to cycling projects near the City centre.

One claim for a Public Right of Way could apparently take a step forward next week. The Foxwood residents association has been told that the path across the moor (the field which has recently been ploughed) will be considered at a decision meeting taking place on Tuesday. The association applied for heh PROW order on te path as long ago as December 2018

Unfortunately no agenda or report for any such meetings has been published on the Councils web site. This suggests that any discussion will be at one of the Councils, now infamous, “behind closed doors” meetings.

We hope not.

We also expect the Council get a move on and re-establish a safe access onto the moor from Foxwood Lane.

The environment and informal leisure

The government has launched a welcome initiative this week aimed at encouraging more active lifestyles. There has been a lot of support for cycling as a way of keeping fit and losing weight. That is very welcome and we hope that it soon translates into a Council initiative aimed at improving maintenance standards on off road cycle paths, many of which are in poor condition in York.

Less attention has been paid to leisure walking – an option open to virtually everyone.

There has been renewed interest in the use of local Public Rights of Way (PROW) as residents sought to follow daily – social distance – exercising guidelines. The route across Acomb Moor to Acomb Wood became more popular. A local bulletin board has seen several people criticise the farmer who blocked off all entrances to the moor before ploughing it.

Access to Acomb Moor blocked

While the owner is entitled to cultivate his land, he should not have blocked the Foxwood Lane access at least while the current PROW application is being actively considered. We have asked the public rights of way officer to intervene.

More needs to be done to enhance and improve access to the natural environment at least on the west of the City.

The Councils own annual survey of opinion revealed that  44% of panellists thought that the Council was not doing well at improving green spaces.

59% thought that the Council wasn’t doing well at reducing air pollution.

The Council planted 515 trees last year. It had previously claimed that it would plant “50,000 trees by 2023”. It had also promised to expand the City’s strays and introduce more wildflower meadows in an attempt to encourage pollinators.

We understand that a report will be considered by the Council in August which will  set out proposals to acquire land which will enable the creation of a “large new area of woodland in close proximity to the city to provide green amenity space for residents and plant trees that will contribute to the council’s commitment to become net carbon neutral by 2030”.

There has to be balance. The country does need to be more self sufficient in food production, so the retention of good quality agricultural land is also important.

However, the creation of a country park on land near Askham Lane would be a welcome step forward. It has been a vision for several years. It would allow hedgerows to be re-established and PROWs to be maintained in good condition.

It would also provide some compensation for the sports and leisure land lost through recent developments in the area.

 It only now remains to be seen whether Councillors have the drive and determination to deliver on their promises.Tree Walking GIF - Tree Walking Tired - Discover & Share GIFs

Exercise more difficult as York Council route improvements not completed.

We reported before Christmas, that a Council project aimed at reducing flooding in the Osprey Close area, had stalled. The result was that in wet weather the link to Acomb Moor and Acomb Wood became impassible.

The Council promised to put hard core down on an alternative access but this was delayed.

Work on completing the job didn’t recommence before the Coronavirus lock-down prevented further progress.

Although most of the path is accessible now that the mud has gone, the alternative link path is steep and potentially hazardous for the less physically able. This is a shame given the large numbers of people wanting to use this, and similar, routes for their daily exercise.

Nearby the Public Right of Way application for Acomb Moor has also stalled and will not be pursued until normal work resumes at the Council.

In the meantime volunteers are trying to keep hedges trimmed back to allow continued use of the path.

Volunteers are trimming back thorn hedges from local footpaths
Acomb Wood is popular with recreational walkers. It also is maintained by volunteers.
Abandoned barriers at the site of the drainage works
The pedestrian Link to Osprey Close. Passable in dry weather but very uneven
Acomb Moor has been popular with walkers, dog owners and families in recent weeks. Formal approval of the footpath access has still be be agreed by the Council.