The footpaths in Chilworth, around and through the Common, are a valued local amenity. A longstanding local resident, Roy Martin, is trying to get the paths some official recognition and protection, but he needs our support if he’s to succeed. Many readers will know the problem. Whenever Forestry England turn up to harvest pine trees, the result looks like the aftermath of the Battle of the Somme. Their website makes it look that they deliver bucolic bliss, but the truth – at least over the last twenty-odd years to your Editor’s knowledge – is far different. The massive machines leave ruts six feet deep that could easily drown a child when filled with rainwater. The unwanted branches are piled and strewn everywhere, blocking the paths and whole areas not only to people but also wildlife. Worse, there are pools of hydraulic fluid and antifreeze left, along with their empty, discarded containers. This summer several paths were marked ‘out of bounds’ with red & white tape and ‘Danger of Death’ signs, apparently in preparation for more works this autumn.
Roy has found that Forestry England don’t recognise the paths. They say there’s no right of way. The advice he’s been given by Hampshire County Council is that an application needs to be made for a Definitive Map Modification Order, which needs to be supported by at least twenty residents. Roy has taken the lead on this but he needs as many people as possible to download and complete this form, and mark up this map. (Roy has only marked the paths he currently uses – we should all feel free to mark any and all that we use in addition to those.)
Roy has already completed the lengthy application form, so if you send your forms and maps to him he’ll combine them with the application and get them submitted. You can either send them to Brook House on Roman Road, or scan and e-mail them to him.
If you value the freedom to walk through our local woodland, please support Roy’s public-spirited endeavour by marking up all the paths with which you’re familiar (including the one down to the Golf Course, and the one past the kennels to the Drove and the Science Park). If you have questions or suggestions just e-mail Roy, who’ll be happy to hear from you. The self-imposed deadline for getting the application submitted is the end of September, so please act now.