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Best foot forward in Willington path fight

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 27, 2014

Pat Pearson - Willington Footpath Campaigner

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A CAMPAIGNER has secured a major victory in her long-running fight to see a footpath turned into a public right of way.

Pat Pearson's 14-year battle might soon come to a successful conclusion after a public inquiry ruled the 960-metre bridleway on land behind Spilsbury Close, Willington, would become a right of way.

However, Mrs Pearson, of Trent Avenue, remains cautious over the eventual outcome until the six-week appeal period has ended.

She said: "We mustn't put the flag in just yet as there is a six-week appeal period, so the footpath is still closed to the public."

The 83-year-old said the fight over the footpath, which has been taken to the High Court and back, 'saved her life' after the tragic death of her son to motor neurone disease, as it gave her something to focus on.

She said: "When he died I died with him. (This fight) was my saviour. It brought me back to normality.

"I stuck with it. People have died and people have left, but I stayed with it."

The dispute first flared in 2000, when five homes were built with gardens backing onto the path.

One of the occupiers then built a wall across the bridleway.

It was later declared a public right of way by Derbyshire County Council. That decision was challenged at the High Court in 2006, resulting in a judge ruling the footpath should be closed.

In 2007, another challenge against the ruling was made at London's Court of Appeal, but it was dismissed.

Derbyshire County Council said it looked at the evidence again and made a new order to change the map in 2012. Objections to that order were again received and the county council had to submit it to the Secretary of State. A public inquiry was then held in June to hear evidence in support of opposing the order.

Mrs Pearson has now been told the inquiry ruled the footpath should be turned into a right of way, pending the outcome of any appeal.

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