A TENACIOUS Darlington man has won his fight to have a popular footpath declared a public right of way.

Derek Lindsay began his battle with Darlington Borough Council in July 2015 when the authority dumped truckloads of soil across the Sutton Close footpath in the West End area of Darlington.

The council claimed the contentious closure of the path came following consultation with police and nearby residents, who claimed there were problems with anti-social behaviour along the path.

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Users of the footpath complained, saying the decision was made without proper consultation and the path was eventually reopened.

Campaigner Mr Lindsay took the fight to protect the footpath a step further, calling on the council to acknowledge it was protected by a covenant that stipulated that the path should remain open and asking them to designate it as an official right of way.

At a Rights of Way panel on Tuesday, November 15, Mr Lindsay had his wish granted – and the soil has been removed making the path fully accessible.

The 75-year-old told the panel that the council had initially justified their closure of the path by saying it had not been designated public right of way.

A regular user of the path, he detailed his fight to protect public access to the area and said: “The obstructions were a serious interruption of my use of the footpath and I resolved to find out why they had been created and if necessary, take steps to have them removed.”

He added: “The point I want to emphasise here is that the wider public’s right to use the long-established footpath needs to be protected against arbitrary action by those in authority…

“If you grant the footpath the status of public right of way you will help to ensure that there is no repetition of the unhappy saga which has discredited some of our representatives and protectors.

“The result, I hope, will reflect the wishes of the wider Darlington community who are represented by those who have provided statements in this matter and lead to a healing of the divisions which resulted from council and police action.”

Following the decision to grant the footpath right of way status, Mr Lindsay said: “I am happy that the matter is concluded and has been concluded in this way.

“I have made clear all along that I thought it was wrong the way this was done and I’m just pleased I was able to draw attention to that.”

A council spokesman confirmed that the path was now being added to the register, saying: “The path was not originally on the Rights of Way Register. We can confirm that the Rights of Way Panel has considered the application and decided that the path should be added to the Definitive Map for the Borough. The process will include a formal six week objection period and then, assuming no objections are made, the path will be added to the Definitive Map.”