Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting KNEWS to 80360, or email
Survey reveals 79 paths are blocked across Keighley district
A shock survey has revealed a staggering 79 public footpaths across Keighley district are illegally blocked.
And council rights of way bosses have been accused of doing nothing to tackle the issue.
Keighley Ramblers, which surveyed more than 230 miles of footpaths in the summer, said some had been deliberately blocked by landowners.
The group added in addition, more than 60 green public footpath signs are missing.
Bradford Council accepts it has a statutory responsibility to maintain the paths, but says cash constraints mean work has to be “prioritised”.
“I was very shocked at the findings,” said Keighley Ramblers secretary and walks organiser Alex Gardner.
“We did a similar survey in 2011 and the situation has definitely deteriorated.
“Part of the problem is due to landowners, and in other cases it’s down to lack of maintenance, with paths being allowed to become overgrown with vegetation.”
The survey by the 130-member group covered paths throughout the three Keighley Bradford Council wards, plus Worth Valley and Craven.
Problems were particularly prevalent in the Worth Valley, which includes Haworth and Oxenhope, but existed across the district.
Mr Gardner, a 67-year-old retired council highways worker, said the issue had been raised with the local authority.
“The reply we get is the council has no money to enforce this – but it has a legal responsibility,” he said.
“It has a long list of disputed rights of way but has no budget to do anything, and in the meantime the backlog of work builds up.
“More resources need to be devoted to tackling this or things will just get worse.
“Thanks largely to Ramblers’ campaigns we have one of the biggest rights of way networks in the world, but it is under threat.”
Mr Gardner said the group had put its weight behind efforts to reopen routes including Becks Road in Keighley, which – as the Keighley News reported last week – has been blocked for years.
A council spokesman said: “Councillors and senior officers are aware of the extent of our statutory responsibilities, but in these times of reducing resources, there is still a need to prioritise our work.
“We will look carefully at the issues raised by Keighley Ramblers but, unfortunately, there may be delays due to prioritisation.”