Residents left recent meeting with Coln Park LLP dissatisfied with plans for Lechlade footpath
ANGRY residents left a recent public meeting dissatisfied, following talks on how to resolve the closure of a popular public footpath.
The meeting, held at Lechlade Memorial Hall on October 15, saw around 100 local residents turn up to fight for a footpath around Bowmoor Lake to be reopened.
The footpath has been closed since Coln Park and Lakes by Yoo bought the lake in 2007 to start developing holiday lodges. The company successfully applied for a temporary six-month closure which it has renewed ever since.
Outraged Fairford, Lechlade and Kempsford residents were given the chance to voice their anger with a spokesman from Coln Park.
Although the footpath is within the privately owned Bowmoor Sailing Club, locals claim they have been walking on it for decades. Only a week before Coln Park put in place its first temporary closure, one resident succeeded in making the path a public right of way.
“We have ideas to make things better,” said Phillip Duncan from Coln Park LLP at the meeting.
One resident asked what Coln Park’s motivation was to shut the path.
Mr Duncan replied: “Coln Park wants to create an alternative path. Wider benefits can be achieved by working together and we think there are better alternatives.”
But residents did not appear satisfied with the overall outcome of the meeting and accused Coln Park of creating a ‘gated community’ solely for the residents living around Bowmoor Lake.
“We want Coln Park residents to be part of the community,” said Whelford resident Teresa Griffin. “The people who want to walk on the path do not want to offend. We just want to look at the wildlife.
“Fencing us out of the area creates barriers between us.”
Richard Holmes of Cirencester Ramblers said he knew of public footpaths which went through some other gated communities. “Can the footpath be opened certain times? Why can’t you open the path for a year and we’ll tell you if we like it.”
Health and safety reasons have prevented Coln Park from opening the footpath to the public in the past, although Lake by Yoo residents are able to access it.
Mr Duncan said Coln Park residents were given health and safety advice.
He added: “A lot of issues have been raised which Coln Park needs to digest. This has been a festering sore for the last six years and we will continue to work to resolve it. In the long run, we will look to create a public right of way around various other lakes.”
Cllr Ray Theodoulou, who chaired the meeting, said it was clear that the plans put forward by Coln Park were very different: “People need time to absorb and compare proposals. There is a long way to go and the process will take some time.”
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