Progress towards reopening Bridleway 250 has been slow, one source of information responds only occasionally and
Mick Barnbrook has an election on his
mind. For those new to the subject, Bexley council turned a blind eye while a landowner erected
a gate across Bridleway 250 in contravention of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. See
Index to previous blogs.
Bexley council has justified its failure to enforce a reopening on Sergeant Alison Bateman of Bexley police who, they claim, indicated that the gate was a good crime prevention measure. Unfortunately for Bexley council the recommendation, if that is what it was, of a police sergeant is of no consequence; the law requires something more. It requires that there has been a “high level of crime”, “persistent commission of criminal offences” and crime which is “disrupting the life of the community”; and if all those criteria are satisfied the council must convince the Secretary of State of the need to close the bridleway. What Sergeant Bateman thinks falls rather short of that. Click image below for more legal detail.
A resident’s enquiry to the Secretary of State has not to the best of my knowledge been answered but a Freedom of Information request to Bexley council has produced the information that everyone would expect. They have not sought the Secretary of State’s permission.
In March I speculated that Bexley council might be putting words into the mouth of Sergeant Alison Bateman in order to shift responsibility to her. The same FOI response letter gives some credence to that theory. It says the police sergeant did not give Bexley council any form of authority that they could break the law if they felt like it when she met them in June last year.
The problem with Bexley council is that they tell so many lies and contradict themselves so often that it’s not possible to say which of their letters might be truthful.
It subsequently became apparent (another FOI) that there had been four crimes in the area over five years.
Government guidance on closing bridleways.(PDF)