Beating the Bounds, and the ‘Bounders


Bureaucracy is the bane of our age.  Ringing a public utility company calls for stamina and determination, a long trawl though departments and reference numbers.  Council offices and government departures likewise.  So when these elements are on your side and the obstacles are your own friends and neighbours it comes a s something of a shock.

The labyrinth of footpaths which criss-cross the fields on the Breedon side our estate date back to the time when a village existed in this area.  A scheme to make them more appropriate for modern usage has been rumbling on for more than twenty years; it has outlived two generations of footpath officers.  Finally we have arrived at a plan which creates a sensible network, using headlands rather then striking across the middle of arable fields.  It has the approval of the County Council, The Ramblers Association and the Leicestershire Footpath Group.  We are all set to go.

But then a Derbyshire group puts a spoke in the wheel.  They register no fewer than eleven objections.  A meeting I convened has failed to move them.  Now we are faced with a public inquiry, a considerable expense to the taxpayer.

Since 1994 we have created or facilitated some thirteen miles of footpaths and bridle-paths through our estate.  Walkers, cyclists and horse riders are very appreciative of our efforts.  These paths are created and maintained at  some cost to ourselves and our farm tenants. I must try to keep in mind those messages of thanks we receive and not be sure by the one sidedness of our Derbyshire neighbours.