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Cambridge residents in fight to save path from closure



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Cambridge residents are urging the public to help save an important path which they say is at risk from closure following the lease of Shire Hall to developers.

From left Pam Smy and Lesley Dee at the gate on the path from Magrath Avenue to Shire hall with some of the other residents protesting about losing access. Picture: Keith Heppell. (30851458)
From left Pam Smy and Lesley Dee at the gate on the path from Magrath Avenue to Shire hall with some of the other residents protesting about losing access. Picture: Keith Heppell. (30851458)

Friends of Castle Mound want people to sign their petition, which has attracted almost 350 signatures so far, in a bid to persuade the county council that the path is beneficial and should remain open.

The campaign is backed by Lesley Dee, a senior lecturer at Cambridge University, who said: “We are a small group of local residents who with the support of two county councillors are working to raise awareness about the future status of the permissive path that runs between North Cambridge and Castle Hill.

Pam Smy's artwork for Wessex Place campaign (30851328)
Pam Smy's artwork for Wessex Place campaign (30851328)

“It is a safe and convenient shortcut that has been used for many years by Shire Hall staff and local residents.

“A recent survey which we conducted showed an average of two people per minute using the footpath to either walk or cycle to or from town.

“A petition requesting that the footpath should become a public right of way on the county council website has attracted well over 300 signatures to date.”

The petition, headed ‘Protect Wessex Place Cut Through’, states: “The Wessex Place path leading from McGrath Avenue to Huntingdon Road and Castle Road is a key thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists from
Castle, Arbury, West Chesterton and surrounds making their way to shop, worship, get to work and school, catch the bus and go to Castle Mound, Shire Hall and the green forecourt as well as to and from the city centre.

Pam Smy's wonderful artwork (30851348)
Pam Smy's wonderful artwork (30851348)

“The footpath has permissive rights of public access and is not a right of way. Residents are concerned that the leasing of Shire Hall and associated buildings for development by Brookgate (the railway station area developers) may jeopardise access or that, in any event, access is not necessarily protected.”

The petition statement continues: “We seek to call upon the county council to take all steps within its power to ensure that public access to the Wessex footpath by way of these permissive rights is protected in perpetuity.”

Cambridge children’s illustrator and teacher Pam Smy has also produced some original artwork to help showcase the uses by various members of the general public.

The petition will close on March 31 and you can sign it here: http://bit.ly/wessexplace



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