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Enforcement action looming over blocked-off Monifieth right-of-way

Angus Council is considering enforcement in the Monifieth right-of-way row. Pic: Angus Council/Chris Donnan/DCT Media.
Angus Council is considering enforcement in the Monifieth right-of-way row. Pic: Angus Council/Chris Donnan/DCT Media.

Angus Council is teeing up enforcement action in a bid to end a near two-year battle over a blocked off Monifieth right-of-way.

And legal chiefs say the authority should fight the issue all the way to the courts if necessary.

The dispute centres around a path running alongside a house in Ferry Road.

It connects the street to an adjacent park and Monifieth High School.

But in summer 2020 the owners of the house whose property it is on fenced off the path.

Monifieth path
A skip blocked the Ferry Road path. Pic: Angus Council.

They put up a sign saying it was a construction site and warned people to keep out.

However, locals say it has been a right-of-way for at least 25 years.

And a council sub-committee is being urged by officials to serve an enforcement notice to bring the right-of-way back.

The land reform group meets on Thursday.

The access dispute is the only item on its agenda.

Council investigations

The council received more than 20 complaints after it was first blocked off in 2020.

They put out a local questionnaire to try and find out how well used the path was.

And 94% of the 52 folk who replied said they were regular users until it was closed off.

Half said they used it at least once a day

And 86% had first used it prior to 2005.

But almost half of those who responded said they had known it as a right-of-way since 1995.

The path provides access to the playing fields, a local shop, Grange primary school and the Seven Arches viaduct.

Angus Local Access Forum also considered the matter earlier this year.

It is backing the council in moves to free up the right-of-way.

The owner’s position

Council access officers first spoke to the property owner in June 2020.

They were sent a letter asking them to remove the obstructions.

But Angus countryside access officer Paul Clark says in his report to councillors that the situation remains a stalemate.

“Subsequent correspondence has been with the owner’s solicitors,” he says.

Monifieth path
Warning signs were put up. Pic: Angus Council.

“It has been made clear the owner does not accept the public have a right of access over the track and does not intend to remove obstructions.

“The owner regards the track as a private driveway and considers public use unreasonably affects their privacy.

“They have also stated concerns relating to dog fouling, damage to cars and public safety.

“The situation remains unresolved.”

The householder did not wish to say anything further when approached for comment on the matter.

The rules the council want to apply

Section 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives the public rights of access to land.

Section 13 of the Act places a duty on the local authority to “assert, protect and keep open and free from obstruction or encroachment any route, waterway or other means by which access rights may reasonably be exercised”.

And Section 14 says the owner of land in respect of which access rights are exercisable should not put up any barrier to prevent access.

The next step

This week’s sub-committee will be asked to serve an enforcement notice.

Mr Clark adds: “Having concluded that access rights apply, and that the route was well used by the public, it is appropriate the council takes further steps to having obstructions to access removed, in order to meet its duty to uphold access rights.

“Correspondence from the landowner’s solicitors has made it clear he will not voluntarily remove obstructions to access.

“It is therefore appropriate the council serves a notice under Section 14 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

“Further steps may include removing the obstructions and recovering associated costs in the event of the notice not being complied with.

“Or defending court action in the event of the notice being appealed to the Sheriff Court.”

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