Pensioner, 74, wins 25-year-long legal battle with council over FOOTPATH

Alan Bowers (SWNS)
Alan Bowers (SWNS)

A council that spent £70,000 on a 25-year-long legal battle with pensioner over a FOOTPATH has finally admitted defeat.

Alan Bowers, 74, blasted bureaucrats for wasting valuable resources in the row that lasted a quarter of a century.

Central Bedfordshire Council admitted that it had mislabeled the footpath as a public right of way (ROW) in 1991.

The ROW provides pedestrian access to two homes at Maulden, Bedfordshire.

Bowers argued an adjacent, larger bridleway sitting 50m away is more than sufficient to handle foot and vehicle traffic.

Central Bedfordshire Council has finally admitted it had mislabeled the footpath (SWNS)
Central Bedfordshire Council has finally admitted it had mislabeled the footpath (SWNS)

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The authority had agreed to fight the matter in court in 2013, but has now ruled it will take no further action after three failed trips to Bedford Magistrates’ Court — costing £68,000.

Mr Bowers said: “The council has manipulated this entire procedure, paid for legal representatives who are members of the Open Spaces Society, which has been actively fighting me in this case, and dragged out taking this to court before throwing it out completely.

“This is not right and the council should not be able to hide behind what it has done so I will be taking this further.”

The battle cost the council almost £70,000 (SWNS)
The battle cost the council almost £70,000 (SWNS)

Over the past two and a half decades, Mr Bowers has proven that a survey undertaken by the former Bedfordshire County Council about the use of the footpath was wholly inaccurate.

Some of the signatures from people claiming to be using the path at the time were actually dead.

Mr Bowers was declared vexatious by the council after repeatedly trying to get answers over what action they were taking in getting the matter to court.

The saga has been a headache for the council, with Bowers winning support from MP Nadine Dorries.

The outspoken politician said: “The path should be deleted and then a court can decide once and for all where the blame should lie and, crucially, how and to what extent Alan should be compensated.”

A spokesman for the council denied the mishandling of the case. In relation to the withdrawal of court proceedings, he added that new evidence had come to light.

Richard Connoughton, a friend of Mr Bowers, said he was concerned about the toll the battle had taken on his pal.

He said: “Fighting this has taken all of Alan’s savings and he is not getting anywhere despite this injustice.

“What the council has done and is still doing is insidious and for a 74-year-old man this is taking its toll.”