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WILTSHIRE Council has defended criticism over the maintenance of Clackers Brook – near Westbury View – after local residents claim it to be ‘dangerous’ to use and a ‘dumping ground’.
In September 2010 Melksham News reported about the dangerous nature of the area for which the council issued an apology. At the time the council maintenance team said “We are unaware why it has gone as long as it has without maintenance and apologise for any inconvenience caused. However, the area will be on a regular maintenance programme from now on.”
According to residents living nearby, the regular maintenance programme never happened and the site has not been looked at by the council since Melksham Oak School opened in September 2010.
Amanda Milsom, who lives in Westbury View, which runs parallel with the brook said, “It’s dangerous! Footpaths are disappearing due to the growth of nettles and bushes and kids on bikes can no longer get by safely. It’s even difficult to walk sometimes without having to avoid thorns or nettles stretching across the footpath.
“It hasn’t been looked at since the new school (Melksham Oak) opened and it is becoming ridiculous. Now it has become so overgrown people are now using it to dump their rubbish and it really is getting out of hand.
“The brook can’t be seen as it has also been left. It used to be pretty 15 years ago with lots of wildlife. Not any more.”
The land is owned by Wiltshire Council which is obliged to keep it maintained and fit for public use.
Bill Brown, who has lived in Westbury View for 22 years said, “It’s just outrageous and we want something done! It may well get tidied and sorted but how long will it be after that before it gets left again!
“Who will pay the compensation if a cyclist loses an eye or a pedestrian gets injured? The footbridge is like an ice-rink when it is wet. There is even a paved footpath buried under the grass and rubbish that runs alongside the eyesore called a ‘dry canal’.
“This stretch of land could have been landscaped and made to look presentable and a pleasure for people to walk through. Instead, it has been left for vandals and drunks to use as a haven.”
Wiltshire Council has denied that the area has just been left and say that it is dealt with routinely. Mia Fairfield the media relations officer for Wiltshire Council said, “The footpath in question is routinely inspected, and if we receive reports between inspections the appropriate additional actions are undertaken.
“Following a report, the nettles have be cleared and are no longer over hanging the path. The maintained areas of grass have also been mowed, however, the other wilderness areas of this section of Clackers Brook are not cut back as they form part of the local flood relief scheme. This space is not an open recreational area.”