Leicester Council launches legal bid to create 'safe' public footpath

ITV News Central reporter Jane Hesketh met residents who back the move

Leicester city council has started a legal process to create a new right of way so local residents can use a footpath that goes through a city school.

The path through Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College should be open to the public, Leicester City Council believes.

However it's been contended that the college periodically closes the gates to the footpath - leaving residents stuck.

Wendy Fleming has been using the footpath, which links residents of Clarendon Park with the university and the city centre, since the early eighties. She told ITV News Central she felt 'incredibly frustrated' when using the path.

"A lot of residents like to walk to the sports centre which is open to the public and the university which put on lectures , and we feel a lot safer walking this footpath."

It's not a designated public right of way so the college are within their rights to close it. However under the Highways Act, if such a path has used for over 20 years by the public then, legally, it's presumed to be a right of way.

Adam Clarke, Leicester's Deputy Mayor

The city's deputy mayor, Adam Clarke, said , "Its really important that the public have safe and direct walking routes, not just for their own safety but for public health and the environment. 

"We want to ensure the people who have been using this site historically to walk through can do so in the future."

Once the council submits plans, there will be a statutory period of 42 days to allow for objections to be submitted.

If objections are made, and not withdrawn, the order would have to be submitted to the Secretary of State, who would have the final say.

The college has yet to reply to requests for comment.