A agreed plan to divert the Thames Path back on to the historic towpath at Maidenhead has suddenly been reversed.
The decision was taken on Thursday evening by Windsor & Maidenhead Council.
Instead a pavement will be created in Ray Mede Road to make following the the road along the inland side of Bridge View flats safer for walkers.
Residents of the flats will be given car parking space in adjacent green Bridge Gardens public open space.
This is an astounding turn around. It has been known for decades that many wish the towpath at this point to be restored as a right of way. The issue had been known about when new residents moved in.
Hours before the meeting Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: “We are dismayed that councillors are being pressed to reverse a previous, unanimous decision. The Thames Path National Trail is of national and international importance, bringing visitors into the heart of Maidenhead—indeed, for three quarters of them the River Thames is the main reason for their visit.
“The route is severely marred by the dangerous gap, which forces people to jostle with traffic along the busy A4094. They are not only at risk of accident, but they cannot even see the river. This missing link is off-putting to walkers and visitors and highly inconvenient for local people too.
“The proposal to extend the pavement instead of creating a riverside route is outrageous. People will still have to suffer from the proximity of traffic and lack of river view. Also outrageous is the proposal to sacrifice part of the Bridge Gardens public open space for a private car-park to appease the residents of Bridge View. This is an abuse of a public open space and we shall fight it.
“The council should continue with its agreed plan of a creation order for the riverside route, which will cause minimum inconvenience to the occupiers of Bridge View. The riverside route is highly popular with national and local organisations and individuals; there is clearly a need for the path so the legal tests are satisfied.
“We cannot understand why the council is threatening to adopt this wimpish attitude to resolving this long-standing problem. There is a clear and popular solution. We say it must get on with creating the riverside route for the benefit of all.”
Today, Friday 6 June, the Open Spaces Society repeated its intention to fight the decision.