KEIGHLEY town mayor Graham Mitchell put his best foot forward as he reopened a footpath in Thwaites Brow.

He performed the official ceremony last Saturday following the long-awaited refurbishment of the historic path linking two roads.

Residents can now walk between High Spring Road and Bank Top Way without having to force their way through overgrown vegetation and rubbish.

A High Spring Residents Association has been formed to take on responsibility for maintaining the footpath in future.

Former Keighley mayor Mick Westerman, who spearheaded the four-year project, this week praised the many organisations and businesses who provided free support and materials.

He said: “I didn’t know it would happen like this. I just thought we’d level it off and stop it looking a mess.”

Coun Weseterman, who lives in nearby Long Lee, said the path, dated back to the 1600s and used to go from Moss Carr Road, at the top of Thwaites Brow, into Keighley.

He said: “It might be a Roman road and this is the only bit left. It wasn’t on Bradford Council’s definitive footpaths map so it hasn’t been maintained.”

The project began in 2010 when Coun Westerman, then the Deputy Mayor of Keighley Town Council, was alerted to the problem by local residents.

He asked for help from Community Payback, which oversees people carrying out community service as part of court-imposed punishments, and they cleared around 200 bags-worth of Japanese knotweed.

Coun Westerman said: “Without Community Payback the work couldn’t have been done. They came back in January and February this year.”

The Community Payback team dug out vegetation on both sides of the path and Bradford Council provided ‘planing’ – old road surfacing – to go on top.

Plastic sheeting was also laid to provide a membrane which will stop knotweed and other vegetation pushing out of the ground.

Coun Westerman said several construction companies in Keighley and further afield had provided building materials like soil, timber and stones.

He said: “I’m grateful to them all because we couldn’t have done the work without them. Everything has been done for free”

“The neighbours have been fantastic – bringing flowers for the garden on either side of the footpath.

Keighley College tutors built a wall, and Keighley Town Council has provided £250 for a new tree.