Proposed closure of public footpath 75

The Howard Partnership Trust (which runs the Howard of Effingham School) is proposing that footpath 75, which runs along the eastern side of the hedge which is part of the parish boundary between Effingham and Little Bookham, is closed during the daytime (07:30 to 18:00), during the School terms (Monday to Friday). The closure would be made under a Traffic Regulation Order.

Footpath 75 runs from the junction of footpaths 118, 119 and 73 to Lower Road. Footpaths 118 and 73 are part of the Bishops walk between the two churches in Little Bookham and Effingham. The southern part of the footpath, there is a hedge between the Howard of Effingham School land on the west side, and land believed to belong to Little Bookham Church on the east side. The footpath continues along the parish boundary to Lower Road, crossing school playing fields either side of the footpath (the hedge been removed on the northern section). All of the footpath is in Mole Valley District.

Details of the route can be viewed on Surrey County Council interactive map at www.surreycc.gov.uk/maps/surrey-interactive-map

The Trust has not provided any other alternative route for Effingham Residents who regularly use the footpath to access Little Bookham, the Garden Centre in Lower Road, or for a walk down to Oaken Wood or Effingham ponds. A detour along public footpath 118 to Church Street and then along Lower Road is approximately 1.16km long. There is a shorter route for those who care to risk walking down the road in Manorhouse Lane.

The Trust states that the reason for the closure is for the safety of students at the School, and claim that fencing is impractical.

At present there are no formal notices on the Surrey County Council website.

27 thoughts on “Proposed closure of public footpath 75”

  1. I have used that footpath on several occasions and would certainly object to it being closed during school hours. I cannot understand why safety is such an issue here. In any case there must be alternative solutions. Setting a precedent for limiting access to one footpath or bridleway is something we must do everything to avoid.

  2. I strongly object to the proposal to close for any period of time the ancient footpath that is the right of way between Great Bookham and Effingham. This green route is much enjoyed by walkers and to have to divert to the Lower Road is wholly unacceptable.
    If the school has a security problem then it must overcome the fencing difficulty by its own means not take the easy way of causing inconvenience to others.

    1. I too object to the possible closure of public footpath 75 which I use for dog walking. Yes, the land to the east side does belong to All Saints, Little Bookham Church and is, I believe, potentially a grave-yard extension.
      It is after all The Howard Partnership Trust aided and abetted by Effingham Parish Council which Council is well known for disrupting the lives of people from Little Bookham and Great Bookham. It and Surrey County Council should have approved the laying of grass-crete, or, similar, along the north side of Lower Road to allow the Howard school children to park their cars on it rather than along the road. But, it took The Bookhams Residents’ Association a very long time to persuade the two bodies to extend the yellow line towards The Vineries on road safety grounds and also to make it easier for bus drivers who on occasion due to illegally “parked” parents cars had to go the wrong side the traffic island.

      1. This comment from Keith Francis is grossly unfair on Effingham Parish Council. On the issue of the extension of yellow lines, in response to the concerns of Bookham Residents Association, the Chairman of the Parish Council, and I as borough councillor, met with the police, Surrey County Council officers and the Borough Council parking officers on site. We agreed with them the extension needed to improve safety here, and the lines were installed as fast as possible, given the formal consultation that councils are obliged to go through when parking restrictions are proposed.

        It is very sad to see such divisive comments made – there are many difficult issues raised by the impact of traffic and parking problems which are inevitable with a large school located in a rural village. Many people are working hard to find the right balance to protect both safety and the environment. Let’s try and work together rather than slinging insults at our neighbours.

  3. This has to be the most ridiculous idea , if it is for safety it makes no sense as other paths will become overcrowded as a result!

  4. It is a safety issue for the Howard students as it means anyone can access the school site unchallenged and unnoticed. These days most schools are closed sites once the children are in, gates can be closed and access is only from one point. I do also agree this is a vital path for access from the top of Effingham to Little Bookham, but the children’s safety is also a major issue. Call me cynical but I suspect this is another plan by the school to hi-light how unsuitable the site is and how much they need planning across the road, especially coupled with the added usage of the bottom field now that they can’t (or won’t) use KGV!!

  5. I am totally opposed to the closure of any footpath, especially on such flimsy grounds as “student safety”. This is rubbish. I urge EFFRA to do everything in their power to block this.

  6. If this is the one that cuts across the playing fields then it’s never busy – I walk that route quite a lot and it’s really sleepy (presumably less so when school is going in/coming out).

    “Never busy” you can read either way – that few would be truly inconvenienced by its closure, or the school doesn’t really have a major issue with the nearly nobody that might use it.

    There is of course the other footpath to the west side of the school (that comes out in Effingham Place) that isn’t the major detour cited in other comments and is already fenced off from the school

  7. It would appear that no matter how reasonable requests are, and for whatever reason if the request is made by our marvellous local school, the local residents will always object and jump down their throats for being “unreasonable”. For goodness sake people, we are lucky to have this school and so many talented teachers and we should be grateful and a bit supportive instead of this awful “them and us” attitude. And some of us should actually know better given their children are benefitting massively from our amazing school. 😡😡😡😡 why not try a more conciliatory approach and all act like intelligent adults instead of this awful and constant insult game. There must be a reason for this request the Head didn’t just wake up one morning and think “let’s apply to close the footpath during school hours because that will really annoy everyone”. I think she has
    Far more important things to do and a fine life to live!!!

    1. Not aware of any ‘awful and constant insult game’.
      I think you’ll find that if an attempt is made to close ANY well used footpath in the country it will be met with opposition.
      Perhaps you’ll also find the comment on here from the rector of All Saints Church interesting.
      Presumably you’re not a user of said footpath.

      1. Well said Frank. I for one would like to know what the schools real agenda is, this nonsense about student safety is clearly bogus.

  8. The choice if you’re exiting the Vineries is to head east to cross Lower Road and then use the permissive path at the western end of the school, or take the shorter route of crossing Lower Road, head west and then use the much more dangerous Manor House Lane to walk up to join the footpath. I have no problem with the school fencing the length of FP75 (ie north/south) if they have safety concerns, but I cannot support closing the footpath to walkers if it then puts them in potential danger.

  9. Hmmm! To me (an ex-Howard lad and regular user of ’75’) there is a glaringly obvious solution to this. Just continue the tennis court fence further across toward Lower Road and put a gate in it! It’s halfway there already.
    (I like to think the school taught me common sense at least).

    Closing the footpath is unnecessary overkill, and deprives it’s many users of a convenient and safe asset. I can’t understand the school’s stance on this and wonder if there’s more to this idea than meets the eye.

  10. As the current Rector of All Saints, Little Bookham, Church, and previously a teacher for 30 years – I can appreciate both sides of this argument. My congregation use the footpath during the week in order to access the church from the Lower Road, this includes a number of mothers with buggies, for which the alternative of walking up Manor House Lane would be unacceptably dangerous. Local people also use the path to access the church yard and of course I meet many dog walkers as well.
    Yet, as an ex-teacher, I do understand that the school might be concerned about the safety of its pupils. However, I have worked in a number of schools where it is possible to access the grounds easily (all buildings tend to be, rightly, more secure). It is not a perfect scenario but perhaps requires some ‘alternative thinking’.
    I wonder whether the school would consider a fence bordering the footpath with a gate in for access to the lower part of the field. This would help from the security point of view but still allow the locals to cross and then use the continuation of the path through the field owned by All Saints Church.
    Closing the path during school hours would make life difficult for a number of people and I am also concerned that the closure could eventually become permanent, which would affect my Sunday congregations as well. Surely there is a better solution for all concerned.

  11. The Howard have told me they want to carry out an informal consultation to gauge local opinion before they ask Surrey County Council to start the formal process for seeking a Traffic Regulation Order. That process would include a formal consultation via the County Council. So I do think the School should be commended for trying to engage with the local community first rather than just charging ahead regardless. I think these days Ofsted is very concerned about school security, which is understandable. And actually if the School did manage to sort this issue out, that would weaken their case for a new school at the appeal, not strengthen it as one local resident has suggested.

    The Parish Council decided to seek some further information from the School before giving their opinion. I would really like a clear explanation of why the School can’t just fence along one side of the footpath, with a gate through so they can use the eastern area of field beyond the footpath when they need to, with teacher supervision. If there is a good reason why that can’t be done, then closure of the path during school hours only might be a reasonable compromise, depending on how many people actually use the footpath during the school day. Perhaps EffRA would like to do a survey/count?

  12. I have to question the motives of the few residents who claim that their “wants” outweigh the school’s Statutory Duty to safeguard and educate at least 800 young residents of Bookham and Effingham every year, plus about 700 more of our close neighbours from the villages beyond.

    I was one of the few people at Effingham Parish Council’s meeting last week. I acknowledge that there were some sensible comments, but I was frankly shocked to hear certain public figures claiming that this path poses no serious safety concerns. I know that they know that isn’t true, so I must question what possible motives they might have for “forgetting” serious incidents that have happened. Let’s just mention one incident that is in the public domain and that occurred whilst they held civic roles in Effingham. In 2005, a young mum returning from an Effingham toddler group was left paralysed after a knife attack. Having noticed in Water Lane that she was being followed, she had tried to running away from him on the path past Oaken Wood towards Maddox Lane but was cornered by him because someone had locked a gate across the end of the footpath. The police closed that case when their prime suspect, a known drug addict who worked in Effingham and lived in Water Lane, confessed in his suicide note.  It took months for the police to build their case based on evidence that came from the local community. So again I ask, what possible motive can there be for those public figures to claim that the school has not had any justifiable reasons to be concerned about footpath 75?

    Having established that children’s safety is being put at risk by this path, will people please examine their consciences and ask themselves why they feel the “need” to walk and/or exercise their dogs across school playing fields whilst children are using them? Why do church services/meetings “need” to be held at a time when the car parks (plural) next to the church are full? There are better places to park cars than at the Vineries, which is a business not a public convenience, so there’s no actual “need” to cross on that path. As for young mums “needing” to push buggies that way, pull the other one! From which houses? Anyone who actually lives in Manor House or Water Lane will already have walked along those “unacceptably dangerous” country lanes in order to reach the Lower Road. Anyone walking to/from the Little Bookham will have passed Preston Farm from where footpath 74 provide a shorter route to Little Bookham church, or they can choose the dry, surfaced and buggy-friendly route along the lovely new pavement in Rectory Lane onto footpath 73.

    Anyone walking to/from the Catholic Church in Effingham has a shorter route along the mostly tarmacked path on the Howard’s Western boundary. For decades, this was the main pedestrian entrance into the Howard and also to St Lawrence School’s extra classrooms before they were consolidated onto their current site. Don’t forget that Surrey County Council owned both the Howard and Effingham Place until very recently, and from the establishment of KGV (I was one of the first children at the playgroup), it has always been possible to walk along that boundary path to the Lower Road because our local schools used The Lodge, as it was then known. For example, pupils at the Raleigh, St Lawrence and Bookham schools all had our swimming lessons there before Leatherhead Leisure Centre was built. Surrey is the Highway’s Authority and, following the sale of Effingham Place from public to private hands, it would have taken a similar consultation and planning application by Surrey County Council to extinguish that footpath, and there hasn’t been one.

    So let’s have a bit of common sense just for once. Walking around the boundary of the Howard instead of through its limited playing fields is no real hardship, and this slight detour is a price worth paying if it keeps our villages’ young residents safer in the years to come.

    1. Just to clarify – the ‘mothers with buggies’ who attend our mid week activities in All Saints Church, primarily live in (the lower part of) Effingham – Mr Dickinson may not be aware that Effingham and Little Bookham are one ecclesiastical parish and therefore serve both Effingham and Little Bookham people. Therefore, these Effingham parents, access the church along the Lower Road and then by using the footpath. In the cold or wet weather, they naturally prefer to drive, but in the summer months, they are encouraged to ‘think of the environment’ and walk to church. As regards the ‘car parks (plural) next to the church’ – many people do not realise that the main car park adjacent to Manor House Lane, does not belong to the church. It is owned, and used, by Manor House School, for their parents and staff throughout the day. On particular occasions (for example for mid-week funerals), permission is given to the church to park there, but naturally the school do not encourage non-school parking there on a regular basis.
      Near to the church itself is a much smaller car park for ‘church traffic’, which does fill up quickly – also prompting those who can, to walk instead.

  13. Reverend, In the article there is a link to Surrey’s map. Zoom into the Western edge of the Howard and you will see the path that Surrey CC laid when the Howard was built is very clearly marked on it. You will then be able to encourage your young mums to walk the way your parishiners have walked since the 1940s, and probably earlier. You might care to remind them that when their children are older, they will no doubt appreciate it when members of the public have enough common courtesy not to be a deliberate distraction to their children when they are at school.

    1. I fail to see what connection a tragic incident some 12 years ago in Water Lane has to do with the current proposal. Tenuous in the extreme and rather insensitive.
      The KGV playing fields are criss-crossed with foot paths and,until recently, regularly used by The Howard for it’s sports and leisure activities without (as far as I’m aware) any incidents or concerns over ‘security’.
      The western footpath referred to has a concrete and steel ‘chicane’ to prevent motor cycles coming through (a regular occurrence before it’s erection). It’s very effective against baby buggies too. I know, I’ve tried!
      However, the main reason I am against the closure of this footpath is that my mum, who lives in Norwood Road, is 84 years old and, thankfully, still very active and independent, has used this path for many years to visit The Vineries (she’s a keen gardener and doesn’t possess a car). It really is a big feature in her life! It’s closure will mean a much longer detour. She’s not up to it.
      I too use the path for walking our dog and visiting the garden centre.
      The suggestions of a fence and gate running parallel to the footpath would seem a sensible solution to the school’s perceived ‘problem’.

  14. No, not just one “tragic incident” 12 years ago. There have been regular incidents as a result of the path, as the elected members who spoke at the meeting very well know, and they also know that I know. I mentioned that particular incident because that it, and the community concerns raised at that time that added to the evidence base which allowed the case being closed, are all in the public domain. There are also issues with KGV, which contributed to the decision to move the schools sports.

    As for the old school path, whatever used to happen in the 60s, there are not mods racing around KGV, the British Legion is closed and drink driving frowned upon. Blocking the exit of the path to that extent is not needed and in any case, the school side of that path is available, which would mean the mums with buggies and toddlers going to St Lawrence school need no longer walk in Brown’s Lane. Isn’t it interesting, in allowing the DIY chicane to be put in, which stopped their safe route to school, there has been no interest from the residents and councillors?

  15. Have you seen the height of the fence around Manor House?

    I wonder why those children need protection but according to our local ‘representatives’ Howard students do not deserve the same? Reducing the number of access points to the site is obviously going to benefit children’s safety. Fewer entrances = less opportunity, it really is a simple sum.

    I am a local resident and dog walker I use that path regularly and would be more than happy to find a different route. I am ashamed at my fellow residents comments above.

    Please everyone unless you moved to Effingham pre 1945 you knew you had a secondary school in your village serving the local community. It and its wonderful students should make you proud and willing to help them in anyway.

  16. I am opposed to any restrictions being imposed on this popular footpath. I and many others use it as a convenient short cut through to the garden centre and Little Bookham Church. The alternative is to use Manor House Lane which is far too dangerous, especially if you have children.
    Isn’t it possible, as some have suggested, to erect a fence and gate along the edge of the path?
    This seems to be a sledge hammer/ nut situation.
    I’m sure there are hundreds of footpaths in the country that cross land belonging to private individuals and organisations who could cite ‘security issues’ as a reason to close or restrict their use. If that stance were adopted, we would see many more footpaths disappear.
    Please support the status quo.

  17. Dear Villagers, I am totally opposed to the closure of this footpath, Why? because if you look at a map of Effingham you will see the public footpaths are a network, cut one and you start to dismantle the network. As the longest serving Parish Councillor and the only one who was born in Effingham and lived in the village my whole life (this does not give me a monopoly of knowledge). If I had a pound for every closure and diversion over the past 27 years there would be nothing left. Please remember if you start in the south Effingham’s boundary starts at the access road to the station and ends at the drove road the other side of Ranmore on Whitedown (about 6 or 7 miles).

    As for safety, the boundary around the Howard has more holes in it than a colander, only the Eastern side is fully secured. To bring the stabbing into this is absurd. Does J Dickinson suggest we put a drawing pin the Howard school and draw a circle and have a one mile exclusion zone.

    Fact, life has risk for all of us. There is the acceptable risk and the unacceptable risk, you cannot totally eliminate it. The extension to the Howard sports field was purchased late 80s early 90s? this is the only part of the curtilage which was not part of the 1933 purchase from the Pauling foundation. When they purchased the extension they knew it had a footpath across it, then if it was a danger why did they but it? I have a piece of advice for the Howard “democracy is to stand up for your rights while NOT denying others theirs. As a member of EPC I will leave my email address, it would not be right to have and opinion and sit on a minor public body and not be accountable. Yours James Nicholls. james.nicholls452@outlook.com

  18. Last Monday at the Bookhams Residents’ Association Committee Meeting a lady told us that she had witnessed a boy climbing over the fence by the gate from the Howard of Effingham School but as he was being watching his friend wasn’t that brave. The lady also told us that the fence at this point bears witness to it being used as a climbing frame.

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