A COMMUNITY is celebrating securing an important “walking-bus” route.
Neighbours called in Hindley Residents’ Association (HRA) after a battle with a mystery opponent who kept locking them out of using the path alongside Hindley Town Football Club between Waverley Road and Kildare Street.
The route had been the scene of clashes between players and irresponsible dog walkers over pets being allowed to foul the pitches.
Last year walkers found themselves at the centre of an even more heated dispute about the path after persons-unknown repeatedly super-glued the gates protecting access to the path.
The right-of-way dispute was further complicated by the fact that the route, although marked on Ordnance Survey, wasn’t recognised on the council’s own definitive map.
Now HRA members have expresed delight after ward councillors Jim Churton, Jim Talbot and Jim Ellis helped to secure funding from the council to have the path properly metalled.
It has also been now formally recognised as a route for primary schools to use by town hall chiefs.
The football club, which has a 25-year lease on the land, didn’t have anybody available for comment.
But the Residents’ Association’s treasurer Andy Swift said their meetings had been lobbied by up to 40 residents a time demanding it takes action to protect the integrity of the path and rights to access it.
They angrily claimed the football club had been physically preventing use of the path with fencing which was also preventing legal access to the common on the other side of the pitches plus an important pedestrian route to Wigan and Leigh Hospice and St Peter’s Primary School.
Mr Swift said: “We have had meetings, arranged a site visit and contacted the ward councillors and we believe have now reached a successful outcome.
“It seems that the football club had got fed up with dog fouling problems and somebody had taken it within their own hands to shut the path and stop it being used. The action had triggered a mass revolt by all the residents and it was clear that the situation couldn’t be allowed to continue.
“We had some sympathy for the football clubs because when they took out their lease they were under the impression that there was no public right of way across the land but that was always debatable because it was shown on lots of Ordnance Survey maps and things like that, although it wasn’t on the council’s definitive map at the time.
“Eventually after lots and lots of emails and conversations, the council has found the money to re-open the path and to properly Tarmac it, which is a massive improvement.
“They have also erected a new Kissing Gate at the side of St Peter’s School near the hospice and created a proper path between the two points which the residents are delighted with.
“It is victory for the Residents’ Association and the residents themselves. Common sense has prevailed.”