New attempts could be made to bring footpaths and twittens on Uckfield’s Manor Park Estate up to standard.
Many are now in an extremely poor state of repair with crumbling surfaces, which in places pose a danger to pedestrians.
There are also fears of public utility services beneath the paths beginning to fail.
Homeowners responsible for paths
Attempts have been made to get footpath repairs completed but all foundered because the paths and twittens are unadopted by the county council and are owned – usually jointly – by house-owners of adjoining properties.
Cllr James Anderson, Trust Independent, Uckfield North, asked at this week’s Uckfield Town Council meeting if the authorities might intervene if the state of the paths became a health and safety issue.
He particularly highlighted a path which runs from just below Manor Primary School in Downsview Crescent to Hempstead Lane.
He later told UckfieldNews.com there were other examples on the estate.
“At some point, someone is going to have bite the bullet and do something,” he said.
One way forward, he suggested, was for the town council to work with partners, such as the county and district councils, to bring forward a solution.
He said the fact that many, many properties on Manor Park were rented made the problem more difficult.
Online toolkit to help residents
But, he added, the property owners would need to be part of the solution.
“It is going to be a long process. We need to speak to our fellow councils and come up with something,” he said.
The aim would be to bring the footpaths and twittens up to a standard acceptable to the county council, which would then adopt them, and become responsible for future maintenance.
Paul Sparks, chairman of the Manor Park and Hemsptead Fields Residents’ Association, said the association had tried to help residents and had produced an online “toolkit” to help those planning to undertake work.
He said: “Some residents have clubbed together and done work on their particular footpaths and we have spoken to them and got information about how they went about it and how they did it.”
Mr Sparks, who is also a North Ward town councillor (Liberal Democrat), said the association was well advanced with a survey of footpaths which would identify ones most in need of repairs and those most used so they could be brought up to a standard at which point the county council would adopt them.
He said the association had attempted with Manor Primary School to get a “walking bus” started to take pupils from Tesco Express.
“They had a few test runs but the footpaths were in a pretty poor state and were not acceptable from a health and safety point of view.
“We tried to get funding; looking at it from a healthy point of view which was a wider brief than just repairs to privately-owned footpaths.
“We were unable to make progress on that,” he said.
County councillor Claire Dowling, Conservative, Uckfield, told UckfieldNews.com: “Maintenance of the twittens and footpaths has been an issue for many years; ever since the estate was built.
“It is going to need some thought and a practical approach from councillors and residents to look for possible solutions.
“I will be pleased to help with this problem and join in discussions to help find options.”
How Bell Lane was brought up to standard
At the town council meeting, the deputy mayor, Cllr Duncan Bennett, Trust Independent, New Town, suggested a way forward was to come up with a scheme similar to the one used to repair Bell Lane on the Bellbrook Business Park.
The road was unadopted and the main artery through what is Wealden’s most successful business estate. It was, in effect, a private road and the developer was no longer in business.
An action group partnership between local authorities and some of the big businesses on the estate was established. The county council put in 50 per cent of the costs with support from local councils and many businesses.
Work was completed with the road becoming adopted by the county council in 2004.
You will find the residents’ toolkit on the residents’ association website
Why were the paths not adopted when the homes were built?
Taken from the residents’ association website, whose copyright we acknowledge: When Manor Park was built by Federated Homes, most of the footpaths were not adopted by the local council and so were owned by the private householders. Usually this was a shared responsibility for a particular footpath and this was noted on individual deeds. As a result no maintenance schedule was put in place and so following general wear and tear, together with excavations for utility repairs etc. most of the footpaths and twittens are now in a poor state of repair.
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