Have Your Say
Residents have the opportunity to raise any local issues or concerns with Ward Cllrs
Residents were then invited to raise any other queries or concerns.
Councillor Rowley acknowledged that Hagg Wood was a very emotive and contentious issue and understood the frustrations evident within the community. Nevertheless, he respectfully asked residents to express their views in a measured and considerate manner. He also explained that representatives from the Public Rights of Way Team (PROW) from City of York Council had been requested to attend the meeting but had refused. Consequently, there were two vacant seats next to Councillor Rowley and Councillor Warters (with a copy of the Ombudsman’s report strategically placed on one of them).
Councillor Rowley acknowledged that the closure of the gate on a lane leading to Hagg Wood (which had come under new ownership in recent weeks) had inconvenienced and upset many residents. The current owners (who he said had no wish to upset residents) had been advised by their legal representatives to lock the gate (due to liability issues) until a decision was made with regard to public access. Councillor Rowley further stated that he would be more than happy to arrange a meeting with all the relevant parties in an attempt to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
One of the residents was disgusted and appalled that representatives from the Public Rights of Way Team were absent from the meeting. She could not understand why the current owners had made the decision to lock the gate and why they had not explained their decision to the residents. For the purposes of democracy and transparency she believed that they should have attended the meeting to explain their actions. She also expressed her significant distress with regard to the situation which had created a toxic atmosphere and real sense of disenfranchisement within the village which she had not known in over twenty years. Councillor Rowley said that the owners were aware of residents’ concerns but felt that it was the responsibility of the Public Rights of Way Team to clarify issues and progress matters.
Another resident was angered by the impact the closure had on people with impaired vision or mobility who were unable to gain access to Hagg Wood.
Confusion over parking on Intake Lane and Hagg Lane was also flagged up as well as the poor state of the road surface. There was a sense of general frustration with City of York Council due to the impasse.
Various ideas were raised by several residents in an attempt to find solutions to the issue of liability. These included: -
· Purchasing the freehold land by the Forestry Commission in order to facilitate a dedicated right of way;
· Setting up a creation agreement by City of York Council;
· Extending Parish Council insurance.
One resident suggested accessing the Natural England website as a potential source of useful information particularly relating to public rights of way.
Another resident asked how long it would take for the legal issues to be resolved. Councillor Rowley said he was unsure at this stage but was keen to progress matters.
Councillor Rowley confirmed that five copies of the Ombudsman’s report were available to residents and as no further queries or concerns were raised he proceeded to thank everyone for attending the meeting which ended at 20:45.