A BID to reopen a Norton footpath which has been used by generations of people has been backed by the town council.

The path, which is in a disused car park next to Karro Foods at the bottom of Parliament Street, was blocked off in July.

However, following anger from residents who use the path on a regular basis, Norton county councillor Keane Duncan is preparing to mount a legal challenge in a bid to keep the path open.

He said: “This footpath is so important to so many people, and the response so far has been overwhelming. Over 50 forms have been sent out to people across Norton, and these are now slowly trickling back in.

“Even a Norton ex-pat based in Texas has completed a form, and so far we have documented usage dating back to 1984.

“However, I believe that public access across this path in fact goes back many decades earlier than this.”

Cllr Duncan said he had met with Karro Foods, who said the path is likely to remain permanently closed due to health and safety concerns.

He said: “I was told essential maintenance work is likely to take four weeks, and the path will remain closed during this time.

“The indication from Karro is that the path would then remain closed after this work following advice from their legal team.”

Cllr Duncan said more evidence was needed if they were to be successful in proving the path is a Public Right of Way to North Yorkshire County Council.

“It is not going to be easy. There is a severe processing backlog and very few applications prove successful.

“Please don’t sit back and hope others will take action. If you have used this footpath, at any time, please get in touch.”

Norton Town Council said although some concerns had been raised by allotment owners in the area over vandalism, they supported Cllr Duncan’s bid to reopen the path.

Mayor of Norton Cllr Ray King said “We appreciate the allotment holders have concerns, but this is a different matter. If people have used it as a right of way for generations then that should be protected.

“I think we should support the application to legalise the footpath but also ensure at a later date that if the bacon factory wishes to expand that a diversion of the path is put in place.”

A Karro spokesman said: “We are currently undertaking remedial works to the area in question and therefore the area has been fenced off to the public for health and safety reasons.

“Our most recent health and safety assessment of the site has identified that it is not safe to be used as an access or short cut to our factory.”

Evidence forms can be obtained by emailing Cllr Duncan at keanedunk@hotmail.com or phoning 07794 451202.