Maulden pensioner involved in 26-year battle over ‘footpath to nowhere’ sells up - but vows to fight on

MBTC Alan Bowers PNL-161219-110916001
MBTC Alan Bowers PNL-161219-110916001

A Maulden pensioner who has spent 26 years and his life savings of nearly £200,000 trying to have a public footpath that “leads nowhere” removed from his garden is finally selling up his home.

But even though Alan Bowers is moving just four miles to Pulloxhill he will keep the disputed 200yd-long strip of land known as Footpath 28.

And he has vowed not to give up his “fight for justice” through the legal system.

The defiant retired businessman said: “This battle has cost me my life savings and ruined my health.

“I will never stop though until Central Bedfordshire Council delete the footpath, accept it should never have been there, apologise for what they have put me and my wife Berry through and award us compensation.”

Mr Bowers, 78, insists that the former Bedfordshire County Council relied on inaccurate information when it designated the path running alongside his four-bedroom detached home in Clophill Road, as a public right of way in 1991.

And he claims to have discovered evidence proving that a number of people who signed a neighbour’s petition swearing they had “unchallenged use” of the path for 20 years until 1956 had not even been alive at that time.

Central Bedfordshire councillors at one time agreed to back his fight in the courts but then withdrew their support after officers warned it could cost thousands of pounds if they lost.

Mid-Beds MP Nadine Dorries, local Tory councilor Paul Duckett and Maulden Parish Council have been vociferous supporters of Mr Bowers’ campaign over the years.

Ms Dorries said: “Quite simply, Footpath 28 should not be there. Alan Bowers has been very badly served over the last 20 years.”

She accused the former county council of being “badly managed, officious and unaccountable” and said they behaved in an “abhorrent” manner and going “totally against common sense”.

Mr Bowers, who has argued his case through the magistrates and high courts, is now trying to get a judicial review into the whole affair.

He claims officials were “incompetent” and then “lied” and mounted a “cover-up” because nobody wanted to admit they made a mistake when first ruling the path ran across his land.

“Even now, nobody uses the footpath,” he said. “It doesn’t go anywhere. I haven’t seen anybody using it for weeks – most locals don’t even know it is there.

“Instead people walking to Maulden Woods use another established footpath which is no more than 60 yards away before the two paths run into each other.”

Colonel Richard Connaughton, an author and former head of the British Army’s Defence Studies, has been backing Mr Bowers’ battle.

He has drawn up a detailed 5,000-word dossier which he has sent to the Government Legal Department.

Col Connaughton said: “Fighting this has taken all of Alan’s savings and he is not getting anywhere despite this injustice. What the council has done and is still doing is insidious.”