A public-spirited Cromer councillor has urged walkers to “snip as you go” to stop footpaths becoming overgrown.

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Hilary Thompson has taken to walking the local paths with secateurs in hand, trimming and pruning back weeds to keep them clear.

It comes after a summer of concerns about paths becoming overgrown - but Mrs Thompson said the Big Society approach did not “exonerate” Norfolk County Council from its duty to keep footpaths clear.

Mrs Thompson, a Cromer town, district and county councillor, said: “I can’t ride my bicycle because I’ve got an injured arm. I can’t even swim, and was feeling quite frumpy.

“So I have been walking. Somebody rang me a couple of months ago about the footpath between Roughton Road and Metton Road, near Cromer.

“Almost every day I have been going up there to walk it and trim back the undergrowth. I’ve also found other footpaths that need trimming back.

“I got some secateurs that are left- or right-handed. If everybody did the same when they were out walking, it would make a big difference.

“It’s good for me and good for everybody else who uses the paths.”

And, though she urged people to do it in the spirit of the Big Society, she added: “This doesn’t exonerate the county council, which still has a duty to keep the footpaths clear.”

The arm injury is the result of a fall from a cycle during a ride to Germany two years ago. Mrs Thompson said she had delayed having it looked at, so that doctors did not advise her to cancel last year’s trek to Everest base camp.

She has had the arm and shoulder immobilised for the last six weeks.

25 comments

  • Is this lady paid as a councillor? is she on sick leave? many questions and answers to this one.

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    Paul Platten

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Just checked the NNDC and NCC websites, in the last financial year she received £14322.64. Not bad for a bit of hedge-trimming!

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    Wandering Crab

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

  • For goodness sake! Wake up people and smell the overgrown roses; the woman is a County Councillor (as well as a District and Town Councillor) and she's up for election May next year. This is just an excuse for some free publicity. By the way, Hilary is a very nice lady from what I've seen.

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    Wandering Crab

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • 4x4 drivers have to look after the greenlanes themselves, so why not ramblers looking after the footpaths??? Good on Hilary Thompson. Instead of whinging and whining about a problem, she's actually got off her seat and done something about it.

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    Lord Elf

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Lord Elf. I am a Rambler, we give the County Council several thousand pounds each year for footpaths. They just don't care about paths anymore.

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    pebbles

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Where is she putting the clippings? If any member of the public was to do similar and leave the cuttings laying around afterwards surely that would be fly tipping?

    Report this comment

    Richard_Waugh

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • I agree with omnishambles,what a terribly worded poll. It IS a public service, it IS the Councils duty! Come on EDP lets have a proper poll. Should the County Council carry out its duty to cut footpaths, Yes or No? Of course everyone can do their bit but it will make little difference overall. Has anyone told the Councillor she is actually cutting a privately owned hedge back, thats not even the County Councils responsibility. There used to be a lovely riverbank path near me that the Council has not cut all summer and it is now impassable. Its 2 miles long! How many pairs of secatuers is that going to take to cut back.?

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    pebbles

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Section 56 of the Highways Act 1980 provides a statutory process by which a member of the public can go to the court and obtain an order requiring a highway authority to repair a highway maintainable at the public expense. The highway authority's room for manoeuvre in this process is limited. If the highway in question is publicly maintainable — even if it is not properly recorded as such — and is out of repair, then the court will make the order the complainant seeks. The highway authority can plead lack of funds or alternative priorities, but these will buy little extra time: once the complainant has satisfied the necessary tests, the order will follow.

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    Catty

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Yes she is right, but if a member of the public did this the council would be on them like a ton of bricks, saying that they cannot touch the "greenery" unless they have public liability insurance , a risk assessment, and all the other rubbish council clipboard weilding jobsworths want. Perhaps the residence would like to refust to pay part of the council tax because this is the councils responsibility and they are not providing it.

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    "V"

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Its a publicity stunt. This lady would do anything to get her face into the paper. More importantly, why dont the councils realise they raise most of the council tax in the suburbs & actuallly spend some of it there?We get virtually no services!

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    Mr Majika

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

  • T Doff- that's an urban (rural) myth. Rights of Way do NOT need to used in order for them to stay open. Daisy Roots- natural vegetation i.e grass and wild flowers is the duty of the Highway Authority to manage. Non 'natural' vegetation i.e a planted crop should not be on a cross field path, hence why landowners and farmers are quite rightly required to clear it, or rather not to sow it in the first place. Hedges are the responsibility of the owner to manage, so yes, the owner of the hedge in the photo is responsible for cutting it back. And no, footfall is nowhere near sufficient to keep vegetation down. It is, and always will be the statutory duty of the Highway Authority to manage and maintain our rights of way. Parish Councils retain powers to carry this work out but it does not absolve the County Council from their legal duty. Overgrowth this year is appalling and should be an embarrasment to our Councillors. A thousand well meaning volunteers snipping back twigs will never replace the 20 or so contractors with professional machinery who did such a good job up until last year. Sacking the small but effective rights of way team and handing management (what there is) to highways managers shows that it was a vendetta against the service and those who enjoy our beautiful countryside. Wake up Norfolk and vote this disgraced administration out!

    Report this comment

    MrPepperpot

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • The state of public footpaths at the moment is awful and will take more than a few individuals with pruners, etc to correct. We like to walk on public footpaths and it seems to have become the norm for them to be overgrown with nettles and brambles making thick trousers essential walking gear.

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    andy

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • The poll doesn't make sense to me. I agree it's a public service and a county council's job, so in both cases our county council representative should be doing it. A yes no option would have worked better.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • From the photo it looks as if this is ROW which is rather different to a pavement and that it appears to be beside a domestic garden. If this was a cross field path set with rape or maize the farmer would be obliged to reinstate after seeding and to keep it clear or face a bill for clearing it from the council . Once you accept that principle surely householders whose hedges intrude on ROWs should also do the same.As for spending money keeping ROWs clear-if there is sufficient need and use the footfall will keep them clear. If they are used rarely and just by those armed with EDP articles or OS maps, walkers should expect to need sturdy clothes and shoes and a stick for nettles. As long as ROWs are not obstructed by fences, un-stiled gates or woody vegetation I see no reason why hard pressed council tax payers should stump up for billiard table smooth ROWS so walkers can stroll the countryside in nothing more than shorts and sandals. A more pressing concern to the EDP should be the appropriation of underspent council tax for a so called community fund for which there is no guarantee of fair allocation, nor much of an satisfactory explanation of why there was an underspend when services have been cut. That money could have been used to pay contractors to clear ROWs not for handing out to football clubs etc

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • She's doing a good job. As a walker of Norfolk footpaths, I have found many of these 'beaten tracks' less beaten this year and more overgrown, partly because of the wet weather. Why not take a machete or a scythe or some secateurs to cut away brambles etc. If people don't walk these paths they will be lost if we're not careful. This is nothing to do with cutting jobs. It would be impossible for the council to 'maintain' every footpath in the county. Their maintenance depends on them being walked.

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    pablo

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Well she's cut everything else in Norfolk, she might as well cut the bushes too.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

  • The county council should do the job , but good for Hilary to help out . .... she should be careful though , if Norman Lamb realises he has missed a photo opportunity , she may get trampled in the rush when the MP and his supporters descend on said footpath .

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    dragonfly

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • This domestic hedge was obviously so overgrown that a photographer was able to hide in it. Wow, quelle coincidence. Rather a clumsy stunt in my opinion. Roger Atterwill's filling in the potholes was hilarious but after that everyone else is a copycat.

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    alecto

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

  • on the one hand yes she voted for the cuts it is her job to resolve these issues one way or another ! but not all land is it clear who owns it and people may end up on someone elses property who wouldnt appreciate it !

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    Double Bill

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • I'm glad that Mr Cameron's 'Big Society' idea is being so enthusiastically embraced by councillor Thompson. Unfortunately, a few clippings from the odd bush here and achieves very other than ensuring that she has got herself free publicity via the EDP.

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    Douglas McCoy

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Hilary for Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner I say. She could do the job with one arm behind her back in my opinion.

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    Rhombus

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

  • if everyone was like this the council would cut services and jobs anyhow. they would get you to wheel your bins down to a central collection point

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    bookworm

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Paul Platten - Mrs Thompson is not a paid employee of the Council. Sick leave is not an issue. She is an elected councillor who receives a set allowance for council duties which, as this article clearly demonstrates, she obviously fulfils above and beyond what is expected.

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    beachstar

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • I quite agree with "bookworm" and "dragonfly", especially regarding the duties of the councils. Where I am in Suffolk we have footpaths and rights of way which have never been cut or otherwise maintained by any sort of council-county, district, town or parish-and we have to keep these open ourselves. It is important to "walk" footpaths so that the public right of way doesn't lapse (for example, allowing developers to usurp them). I have however seen reports from other parts of the country where councils have come down like a ton of bricks on people who have cut grass, pruned shrubs and so forth "off their own bats". H&S always seems to crop up in such cases, so I hope Mrs Thompson has the right certificates, equipment, protective gear, insurance and so forth in place.

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    T Doff

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

  • Surely a member of the public could then be prosecuted for carrying a blade? Where is your common sense!

    Report this comment

    Shanski

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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