HOPES that work will start soon on resetting the
paviours in Monks Lane have been raised by white spray paint marks at various
points along the footpath.
They were first noticed on the
weekend of May 15/16 - the day after a communication from Nantwich Town Council
to Cheshire East Council.
Councillor Christine Farrall, one
of two representatives of Nantwich Town Council on Nantwich Civic Society,
raised the state of the footpath at the Annual Town Meeting and Council. The
Minutes of that meeting record that she said the route had previously been
maintained by Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council (CNBC) "but Cheshire East
(Council) were claiming that as their records did not show it as an adopted
highway there was no obligation on them to repair or maintain it."
After Town Councillors expressed
concern at the "anomalous situation" they asked the Town Clerk to take it up
with local Cheshire East Councillors.
THE official communication with Cheshire East
Council pointed out that the "cobbled way"
had been in existence for hundreds of years.
It cited Keith
Burton, former Clerk of Nantwich Urban District Council and for many years the
Director of Amenities for Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council, as confirming that
Nantwich U.D.C. and then CNBC maintained and repaired
Monks Lane as an urban passageway
for many years.
The Town Council's letter claimed
that there was "de facto" adoption, asserting that "the U.D.C.
and CNBC took it upon themselves to keep it in repair and have established a
liability to maintain it. NBC acted as agent for the Highway Authority for many
The no-nonsense missive said "common
sense would dictate that this is a route which should be maintained by the local
highway authority. It is not in the same class as a passage between two sets of
houses used mainly by the householders or a footpath in the countryside. It is
an ancient and well-known right of way, used regularly
by the public, close to an
historic terrace of listed buildings (Dysart Buildings)."
The letter also points out that "since
the roadway was in existence before 1835
it is 'automatically' maintainable at
public expense under the Highways Act 1835."
The footpath was
in an urban setting, close to a group of houses specifically
restricted to occupation by the over 55s, said the letter, and regularly used by
residents and visitors to the town. "It would be reasonable to expect it to be
safe and attractive."
would not be very costly at this stage but were necessary, it concluded.
Civic Society Chairman, Jeff Stubbs, commented:
"I walked down Monk's Lane to see all the
maintenance markings. There is quite a lot - so we await Cheshire East's
recognition, formally, that it is their responsibility after all.
"I knew that Cllr Farrall was
raising the matter at Nantwich Town Council as we had discussed Monk's Lane
at the Executive meeting of the Civic Society earlier.
"Chris is an excellent member
of both bodies. It shows how liaison between the two parties really works
for the good of the town."
UPDATE (June 2010): I see
that the white markings have now disappeared from the surface of the lane. I
wouldn't have thought that spray paint would be washed off by rain but, as
the paviours are smooth I suppose it must be that they have been erased by
the feet of the many users of Monk's Lane.
Or does it indicate a change of
mind by someone in Cheshire East Council about the work being done?
UPDATE 2017: Since this item
was written the lane's surface has been relaid several times
giving it a much better appearance and making it safer.
A note on the Civic
Society's Facebook page said the last section of cobbles were
set by Cheshire East Council contractors. Bad weather had
delayed them. "Monk's Lane is a valued historic footpath leading
into the heart of the Town Centre Conservation Area."
The next job was to be
painting lamp posts in the lane.