Published: May 22, 2011
Highbridge group given £2,000 boost for reinstatement of footpath

Highbridge War Memorial Trust has been awarded a £2,000 grant from Somerset Community Foundation to reinstate a footpath which runs through Southwell Gardens in the town.

The news comes after long-running discussions between the trust - which runs Highbridge's Southwell House and Gardens - and Sedgemoor District Council over the path's ownership.

Pam Lyes, from the trust, told "Before work commenced legal advice had to be sought regarding the ownership of this footpath. The footpath was created during the 1970's when Sedgemoor District Council came into being."

"However, the Trustees have been advised that the District Council wrongly assumed the responsibility for this charity from the then Urban District Council, although no formal documentation was ever created to give them the power of Trustees."

"They in fact never had any powers whatsoever to create this footpath on charity land, and acted as owners instead of Trustees. When the present Trustees took over the Charity on 10th December 2002, they in fact took on the responsibility of this footpath and are in fact the owners of it."

"It is not a public right of way, and this fact has been registered under Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980. The Trustees have no desire to close off this footpath and are happy for the public to continue using it, although they do so at their own risk."

"The Trustees will continue to close off the car park for 24 hours in any one year in order to protect charity land."

Pam added that the trustees were disappointed that a public seat along the path has recently been broken by vandals.

"This Charity is a voluntary organisation, and does not receive any funding from either the Town Council or the District Council. All funds have to be raised voluntarily and the Trustees cannot continue to fund raise to provide facilities for the public only to find them vandalised within a short space of time of their existence."

"However, we do wish to thank all our supporters who attend our coffee mornings, pop-in luncheons, and hall users, as you all play a very important role in the maintenance of the premises."


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