a FORMER parliamentary candidate has defended his decision to block a busy footpath leading on to Padiham Greenway.
Andrew Hennessey, who stood as an independent in the 2010 elections for Burnley, has come under fire from neighbours after barring the popular thoroughfare on land he owns near Low Bank.
Mr Hennessey, of Rosehill Road, claims he was forced into shutting the path after Burnley Council “reneged” on a land swop deal that would have allowed him to build four homes nearby.
He said: “I have been in dialogue with the council for more than 10 years.
“I am extremely disappointed the council has messed about for so long and it has come to this.
“I have allowed use of my land all this time because of the swop deal but now at the 11th hour the council won’t do it. I said enough is enough and closed the path.”
Mr Hennessey explained he wanted to build four new homes with a link road to the Jacky Wood estate on the brownfield site.
But he said the council advised him to wait until developers had finished before anything was done.
In return, Mr Hennessey allowed the council to use his land as a thoroughfare for public access on to the Padiham Greenway.
However, he said the council sent him a letter recently saying it now wanted to leave the land green – so he blocked the path with brambles, thorns and old railway sleepers.
He said: “Me and my dad have been working on this for a long time. We have done everything the council asked, but it seems it’s been stringing us along.
“I’m not being vindictive. But what else can I do?
“I feel sorry for people who have got to walk a long distance around because there’s no other way to get to the Greenway.
“There must have been 20 people who are all really annoyed because they used the path every day.”
Mick Cartledge, director of community services, said: “As the permissive walkway runs through Mr Hennesey’s land, he has the right to block this path, although we are aware this may cause inconvenience.
“With regard to the land swop agreement, this has not gone ahead as there were issues with ownership of the larger piece of land Mr Hennessey wished to dispose of.
“The council is aware Mr Hennessey blocked the path after he received a letter from our planning department telling him a request for planning permission for an access road and residential development would be extremely unlikely.
“We will continue discussions to reinstate the footpath by agreement. If these fail, we will look at other options.”
Mr Hennessey remains hopeful the deal can be revived and the path across his land re-opened to the public.