Farmer risks jail over right of way

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The Independent Online
A FARMER who refuses to accept there is a public footpath on his land was told yesterday by a judge to allow ramblers access - or spend 14 days in jail.

The warning was given at Middlesbrough County Court by Judge David Bryant to Stan Bell, 76. Mr Bell, whose family bought North Farm, Hartlepool, Cleveland in 1946, maintains that there is no public right of way on his land.

A 1983 public inquiry ruled the footpath legal but Mr Bell has appeared in court three times since then for obstructing the path. Hartlepool Borough Council obtained a court injunction in January, ordering Mr Bell to remove obstructions. After he still refused, Judge Bryant told him: "You can remove these obstructions and make sure people can walk along this footpath. If they can you will not go to prison, but if they cannot you will go to prison for 14 days." The hearing was adjourned until 28 May.