Ipswich: Footpath row heading for ombudsman

Debbie Wiseman who is battling Suffolk County Council.

Debbie Wiseman who is battling Suffolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

A row over a footpath near the edge of Ipswich could be decided by the local government ombudsman after the county failed to consult a landowner correctly.

The county’s rights of way committee is to discuss the case of the footpath in Westerfield at its meeting tomorrow, but officers are advising members that the footpath should not be deleted from the official map of rights of way.

The footpath, known as Fonnereau Way, also crosses the increasingly-busy East Suffolk Line about 200 metres from the main level crossing at Westerfield station – and Network Rail is keen to close as many crossings as possible to allow line speeds to be increased on the route.

The footpath is being debated because the owner of a property in Lower Road Westerfield, Debbie Wiseman, was not properly consulted when the path – which crosses her land – was included in the definitive map.

She is concerned because she has had people using what is marked as a public footpath at all hours: “We saw torches shining late at night, there were men there and they said they were looking for the footpath. I called the police.”

The council accepts it should have consulted Mrs Wiseman about the decision to include the footpath on an official map – however she has referred the issue to the ombudsman who is considering the complaint.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said the company was working with county councils across the country to try to close crossings to improve safety on the network.