Tom’s footpath campaign has been uphill struggle

Alleyway pettition, Joan Avenue, Heanor. Tom Conniffe.
Alleyway pettition, Joan Avenue, Heanor. Tom Conniffe.

a HEANOR man has praised the News and local politicians for helping to get a potentially dangerous footpath resurfaced.

Tom Conniffe’s 14-month campaign to get to get an unadopted footpath linking Joan Avenue to High Street in the town adopted has finally succeeded after being highlighted in the News, which led to Cllr Kevin Parkinson and Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills getting involved.

Mr Conniffe, 67, contacted the News last year after he, and several of his neighbours, had tripped and injured themselves on the uneven surface. He said: “Without the News’s help it would never have got the publicity. I have been passed from pillar to post. In the finish I contacted the Houses of Parliament. Nigel Mills wrote to me and his office people put me in touch with Cllr Parkinson. He came out to see me on January 5 and he walked the alleyway with me. Without him we would still be toing and froing. My heartfelt thanks must go to him.”

The council is now looking to create a public right of way between Joan Avenue and High Street and hopes to take a report to councillors in May. If councillors support the recommendation then work to bring the footpath up to standard could start in the summer.

Mr Conniffe, who has a replacement hip and had major surgery, which left him struggling to walk, started the campaign after he fell on the loose alleyway surface. He later discovered that other people had suffered injuries along the path. The county council asked him to fill in modification order forms to get the pathway enlisted as a recognised right of way.

Mr Conniffe uncovered a legal agreement from 1945 proving that the steeply sloping alleyway is a public right of way and is the responsibility of the county council to maintain. In May he sent the authority a petition with 74 names on it, asking that it repaired the pathway. He then got his neighbours to sign a letter calling for urgent repairs. Now Mr Conniffe wants to know why his campaign has taken so long to be acknowledged.

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “This issue has taken a little time to sort out, but we hope we now have a way forward that will improve the surface of the path.”

n Is there a problem footpath near you? We can’t promise to sort everything, but we could add our weight to your cause. Contact us at news@rhnews.co.uk or on 01773 514162.