Dismay as elderly and disabled people barred from using safe North Walsham cut-through
- Credit: Archant
A call for a 'bit of common sense' has been made to help elderly and disabled people barred from using a long-established cut-through.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has blocked off both ends of a thoroughfare linking Hall Lane and New Road in North Walsham.
The site had been used as an NNDC car park serving the former North Walsham Town Council building but its tenants have all moved out as NNDC continues its negotiations to sell the site to pub giant JD Wetherspoon.
The cut-through had been in use by pedestrians for more than 20 years and avoided them have to walk along Church Street, which includes one of the town's narrowest pavements and a sharp, blind bend.
Those affected include senior citizens living in sheltered accommodation in Saxon Court and Cedar Court who used the cut-through to reach services including the Post Office, library, and Lidl's supermarket.
John Bane, 79, of Cedar Court, who uses a mobility scooter, said: 'Now I have to go round and up Church Street - it's a very tight corner and as you come up to it, its blind.'
Wheelchair user Ken Wheeler, 72, of Saxon Court, said the alternative path was so narrow that his wheels were at risk of coming off the pavement, tipping him into the road.
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Ann Moore, 83, of New Road, who uses a wheeled walking frame, said: 'It's so much easier than having to use that horrible corner - half the time you end up having to walk in the road.'
Cedar Court resident Roger Hopkinson, 75, said he had lived in his home for 24 years and the cut-through had always been available.
There had been no consultation over its closure, which happened on December 23.
'The first thing we knew was at 7.30am that day when we heard bang, crash, wallop as they put up the fence he said.
An NNDC spokesman said they had been talking about selling the site to Wetherspoon since November 2014.
'The site has huge potential and we are preparing the site for sale. The temporary fencing has been put up in preparation for the sale of the land. There is no public right of way across the land.'
The council had not received any written concerns from local residents about rights of access.
A Wetherspoon spokesman said negotiations over the sale were progressing. The firm knew nothing about the thoroughfare and could not guarantee it would be reinstated under its ownership.
But Eric Seward, district and county councillor for North Walsham, said the loss of the thoroughfare raised questions of the rights of people with disabilities.
'A bit of common sense would soon sort this out without affecting Wetherspoon's plans at all,' he added.
'They don't need to reinstate the existing path through the middle. Something following the perimeter of the site would do.'
North Walsham Town Council is expected to discuss the matter at its meeting on January 31.