RESIDENTS are fuming after a footpath into a woodland near York was blocked and signs installed, stating: “No public access or right of way.”

The Friends of Hagg Wood in Dunnington claim the path into the wood from Intake Lane has been used by local residents for many years, and its closure is causing considerable inconvenience and loss of amenity.

However, the owners of the land claim the track is not the main entrance to the woodland and the track’s closure does not close the wood off to people.

The Friends said they submitted Public Rights of Way claims on the path and another nearby path into the wood more than 20 years ago, but said City of York Council had only recently announced its intention to process these claims in coming months.

They said the chances of the path being fully recognised as a Public Right of Way would be strengthened if people lent their support by submitting up to date ‘Evidence of Use’ forms.

“Positive local action can then ensure that we do not permanently lose this valuable local amenity,” they said. “Please also encourage your friends and anyone else you know who has used this path to enjoy the wood to do the same.”

One resident said its blocking had shocked local people, “who love this unique and beautiful amenity and conservation area, and have used this access point for many years”.

Tony Clarke, head of transport at the council, said it was aware that the recent obstruction of a popular pedestrian access into Hagg Wood had caused concern amongst local residents.

“The path is not currently recorded on the council’s legal record of public rights of way (definitive map and statement), although it is believed that the route is a public footpath and therefore should not be obstructed,” he said.

“We are working towards determining the path as a public right of way and are progressing options to ensure that it is re-opened as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for the landowners said that property which had recently been purchased contained a private track.

“The private track is not the main entrance to Hagg Wood and assertions by the Friends that Hagg Wood is closed are simply untrue,” he said.

He claimed that Friends AGM minutes dating back to 2006/2007 stated that agreement to open the track with a former owner had failed and at best it was a ‘permissive track,’ which could be closed on change of ownership.

He claimed the track had been subject to a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) application by the Friends in 1997 which had been rebutted by the former owner.