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Blocked footpath costs farmer £6k

Created on 30/11/2010 @ 15:29
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Wilfully obstructing a public footpath, unlawfully keeping a dairy bull on a public right of way and building over a highway without a relevant licence has cost a local farmer over £6,000.
David Maurice Jones of Court Calmore, Montgomery appeared before Welshpool Magistrates Court in a prosecution led by Powys County Council's Countryside Services.
Mr Jones was found guilty of wilfully obstructing a public footpath situated at Wernllwyd Farm, near Welshpool, under section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 and was fined £500.
He pleaded guilty regarding keeping the bull contrary to section 59 of the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981 and building over the highway without a licence contrary to section 177 of the Highways Act 1980. He was fined £500 and £1,000 respectively.
An order was made by Magistrates that the obstruction to the highway was to be removed within two weeks. They also ordered Mr Jones to pay £5,000 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Magistrates heard that Mr Jones had consistently failed to engage with council officers over many years and showed a total disregard for his responsibility to provide a safe public right of way across his land.
Cllr Gwyn Gwillim, Board Member responsible for Countryside Service, said: “With over 10,000 kilometres of public paths, Powys has the largest public rights of way network in Britain.
“Our Countryside Services team always strives to work with responsible landowners and to assist them with rights of way issues. However, this case sends out a clear message to all land managers that they need to take their responsibilities towards footpaths seriously.”
Martin Davies, the council’s Enforcement Officer for Countryside Access, said: “Criminal proceedings are often the last resort. However, this case should leave irresponsible land manages in no doubt that we will not hesitate to take enforcement action were necessary.”
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