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Bonkers Blog January 2014

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10 January (Part 2) - The one that got away

Bridleway 250 It’s six months since the illegal blocking of Bridleway 250 was reported here and progress towards persuading Bexley council to enforce the Rights of Way Act has been slow as you might expect of a council with little respect for the law. Slow to the point of having stalled.

An abbreviated history lesson…

• Mount Mascal Stables was refused permission to put a gate across Bridleway 250 in Bexley but installed one anyway.
• Bexley council wrote to say the installation of the gate was an offence.
• Mount Mascal Stables provided horses to Danson Festival and advertised regularly in the Bexley Magazine.
• Following complaints by users of the bridleway Bexley council allowed the gate to remain so long as bridleway users were provided with a key on request. All known applications for a key have been refused.
• When questioned Bexley council said they acted on police advice.
• A formal complaint from Michael Barnbrook to Bexley council was met with a refusal to reverse their decision to allow the bridleway closure even though the reason given was in clear breach of the law.
• The police were asked via FOI to reveal the time of the theft at Mascal Stables that led them to recommend the illegal closure of Bridleway 250. They refused to answer the question.
• On appeal it was revealed that the decision was taken by Sergeant Alison Bateman but no further information was available as she had destroyed her notes - like any competent police officer would.

While all this was going on the National Federation of Bridleway Associations, the British Horse Society and the Ramblers’ Association all became involved and threw up their hands in horror quoting unacceptable precedents and similar cases where councils had been found guilty by the courts. Assistance with preparing court papers was offered.

As a result of Bexley council’s failure to uphold the law Mr. Barnbrook has until the end of this month to take his case to the Magistrates’ Court but he has decided not to.

None of the aforesaid charities came good on their promise to underwrite his court appearance and contact with the complaining residents has proved to be spasmodic. He has concluded that his time would be better spent on other things - like preparing for the May election - especially as Bexley council will probably claim in court to be acting on police instructions. An appeal could prove costly.

So Bexley council will once again have got away with breaking the law because of resident apathy. If Mick can find the time he intends to pursue the police sergeant for encouraging the breaking of the law. Stand by for another of his complaints of Misconduct in Public Office.


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