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'Saboteurs' halt footpath opening plan

Hertfordshire claims saboteurs have brought the council's footpath re-opening programme to a standstill by putting up false notices.

The authority was working to open up more of the countryside to the general public following measures taken during the foot-and-mouth outbreak but claims that programme has been temporarily damaged by counterfeit notices claiming path are open when they have not been cleared for use.

So far about 20 commons and 200 footpaths in the county have been surveyed and re-opened including many in Welwyn Hatfield and other parts of the county.

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The council says only the paths on its approved list are officially opened. Any other paths marked as now being open to the public should be considered closed until further notice.

The authority's Director of Environment, Charlie Watson, says the false notices could cause havoc and have been posted by irresponsible people.

"What they have done helps nobody. It puts livestock in danger and now prevents people from safely enjoying the Hertfordshire countryside, he says on the authority's website.

"We have extremely detailed records of where our signs have been posted so we are very clear about which are counterfeit. But, thanks to whoever has done this, we will now also replace all our notices with signs which cannot be copied."

According to Hertfordshire Constabulary, it is an offence to put up an unauthorised sign on a Highway, which includes footpaths and bridleways with a maximum fine of 2,500.

For more details you can ring 01438 737300/ 01438 737321/01923 471300 or 01923 471321. Details will also be available in libraries and district council offices.

April 17, 2001 Europe has a special section with the latest news and background information on the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
Recent News
Foot-and-mouth ban challenged - April 11, 2001
Gobions Wood to stay open - April 1, 2001
Gobions Open Space closed - March 24, 2001
County council closes all footpaths - March 4, 2001
Foot-and-mouth restrictions increased - March 2, 2001
Foot and mouth restrictions spread - February 27, 2001
Foot and mouth plea to ramblers - February 23, 2001