CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep a popular riverside spot in Stratford-sub-Castle open to the public have won their battle after three-and-a-half years.
Stratford Bridge Field, known locally as Stinkpot Alley, had been used by local people to walk their dogs and enjoy the river for decades, but it was closed off when the owner of an adjacent field used to access the area fenced it off in order to keep her horses safe.
The Re-Open Our Walk Group was formed and an application was made to Wiltshire Council to have it officially recognised as a public right of way, which has now been confirmed.
Martin Quigley and Julia Greenstock from the group said: “We are so pleased to finally announce that due to the commitment of local people, the footpath was officially recognised by the Planning Inspectorate on June 19. “Members of the public can now freely enjoy this walk as they had been able to over the past 100 years before it was shut by the present owner in April 2011.
“We would also like to thank the local councillors that backed this cause (unfortunately with the exception of the local councillor for our area) and Sally Madgwick at Wiltshire Council for her constant advice and expertise, despite being snowed under by red tape. “This huge case shows that despite the endless obstacles of forms, letters, and inquiries, that collectively we can make a difference if we try.
“We hope that everyone can now enjoy this beautiful walk and 'beach area' again, and treat it with the respect that it had always been given by the people who have enjoyed it for so long.”
More than a hundred people submitted evidence to an inquiry, which opened in October 2012, of the use of the field over many years.
Wiltshire Council’s southern area planning committee supported the application and evidence was presented by walkers and birdwatchers.
The application was opposed by the owner of the adjacent field and by Salisbury and District Angling Club.