Holborn Footpath Update

Written 12/01/10

I am sorry to advise parishioners that our Holborn Footpath project, which we have been working on for the past 2 years, has come to a major obstacle - money.

The Parish Council already has £20,000 set aside for our capital projects, but the total cost of the footpath scheme is around £150,000, and over the last year or so, the major `funders' have had to tighten their belts. Some 2 years ago we spoke to Biffaward (the landfill operators, who helped us fund the Jubilee Club House), when our chances of accessing their maximum grant of £50,000 appeared good. Unfortunately, because of the credit squeeze, Biffa, and others, have hardened their approach to such projects, which are deemed to be the responsibility of the County Councils. Our major aim was to enable pedestrians & cyclists to avoid the Holborn corner, and this is now viewed as Wiltshire Council's safety problem. We have taken advice from the Wiltshire Council Chief Funding Officer, who advises us to amend our project. He is unable to offer or suggest any financial help towards our project, as it stands, despite it being a project they should be funding anyway. We are advised that there are funds available that, within, and outside of Wiltshire Council, would assist more environmentally friendly, rural schemes, and the suggestion that we reconsider our project accordingly was backed by LMPC at our January meeting.

You will remember that the proposed footpath was to have been adjacent to the road, except for the stretch from Holborn cottages for some 60 metres towards the Washpool road.

Our suggestion, which we are afraid does not meet all the original aspirations of all residents, would be to divide the project into 2 separate phases, which could be tackled at the same time. Phase 1 could be to create a rural walk, with the consent of the landowner, mainly behind the hedge, east of Badgers Brook to Holborn. This would meet up with the Millennium Trail from Lydiard Park, which crosses the road at Holborn, and create a circular village walk, to which we could create some additional rural features. This would meet the criteria of some current funders. The highway style pavement in front of Badgers Brook, and a section towards the Holborn bus stop, would need to be separately funded by us. However, there is the disadvantage is that Wiltshire Council would not take over future responsibility for maintenance of the off-road footpaths, which would become LMPC's. Phase 2 could be done at the same time as Phase 1, funds permitting. It could start in the same way as the original plan, up the Holborn steps, and continue along behind the hedge towards Washpool, with perhaps the final part alongside the road. In the short term, the hedge could be trimmed back to permit walkers to access the verge better.

If we decide to proceed on an alternative basis, we will need to have new plans drawn up, and procure revised costings, which will necessarily involve more time and some expense. On the bright side, we should be fully in control of the project, and able to employ local contractors for various aspects of the work involved.

Another way of better accessing funding for the rural phase of the footpath, would be for the project to be run by a `voluntary body'. A reformed Parish Plan committee could be created, to work hand in hand with the Parish Council. For this, and to illustrate the Parish's commitment, we would need new volunteers to help form the new committee. If you would like to help, or even make some practical suggestion for the footpaths, please contact Tom Pepperall, our Clerk Mrs Leckie, or any other Councillor.

Finally, Happy New Year to parishioners from all the Parish Councillors. Be assured that we will continue to work hard on behalf of the parish to the best of our abilities.

Tom Pepperall, Chairman LMPC.

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