Farmer responds over footpath safety fear
A farmer has said there is little he can do about safety on an official footpath, which is also used by 30-tonne wagons to reach his premises.
A track designated as footpath 19 leads from Close Lane in Alsager into the yard at Greenbank Farm, where it continues.
The road is also used by wagons delivering cattle feed, silage and for building materials during the construction of a new cattle shed, which is at a standstill due to the coronavirus.
Tenant farmer Trevor Warren was speaking in response to ongoing concerns of Brian Durber who lives at Rose Heyes Farm on the corner of the track and footpath 20, which leads to Nursery Lane, who warned that “something will happen and it's going to be tragic”.
Mr Durber told the Chronicle: “The path is being used by tri-axle 30-tonne vehicles. A pedestrian walking on the side could slip under a wagon. There's no room at all. You have to go virtually into the hedge when a wagon passes.”
Mr Durber said highways representatives from Cheshire East had been out but had been “no use at all” and that the paths department had declared it safe.
Mr Durber added: “The condition the footpath has been left in after the continual usage of 30-tonne vehicles is appalling. In wet weather it is a mud bath and during the dry spell it was like a dust bowl. People walking across the footpath are covered in dust and parents bringing their children out for a walk in the sun are choked by it.”
Mr Warren moved to Greenbank Farm 16 months ago having been a herdsman in Dover. He said he recognised that pedestrians, including families with young children using pushchairs, walked along the route.
But he said: “At one time it would have been used by trucks carrying five tonnes of feed but it's not like that any more. The wagons now carry 29 tonnes.
“It is dangerous at the minute for users. The lorries are big and there will be more wagon movements when work on the new cattle shed resumes.”
He said there had been “endless trouble” about the route but added: “This is my access and the footpath goes right through the farmyard. I don't moan about the footpath and the visitors wandering around the farm but I get people moaning about me.
“Of course it would be easier if I had a slip road from the M6 straight to the farm, but that's not going to happen.”
Mr Warren said he would arrange to have signs put up warning pedestrians and others about wagons regularly using the route.
He explained the tenant farm was dilapidated when he arrived, which was why improvement work was needed, including the new shed to which wagons had been delivering aggregate and ground soil, to help build up the land level.
He said he made a point of speaking to people using the path at the farm: “I like engaging with the public to keep them informed of what we are doing. I allow families walking to come and have a look at the calves.”
Coun Steven Edgar, the Cheshire East Council representative for Haslington Ward, said he had had numerous emails and correspondence with Mr Durber about his concerns and added that the council's public right of way department had been in contact with the farm to try and resolve the issue.
“Our highways department and public rights of way people are dealing with it but with covid at the moment I have to say it is not a priority,” said Coun Edgar.
“It's a difficult situation. It's on the list of work to do, but down on that priority list, as only half a dozen cars or so use it for access.”
He added: “I agree it is shared access and HGV drivers have to be sensible when it comes to the safety of pedestrians.”
Coun Edgar said: “There are points along the way where people can get out of the way. It's up to the farmer to have a word with his suppliers about their wagon movements down there.”