Wellington residents who use and enjoy walking the many footpaths around the town have new allies in Tom and Eunice Borg. Tom has taken on the voluntary role of Parish Paths Liaison Officer (PPLO) from Cllr David Mitton.
Together with his wife, Eunice, and Cllr Gary James who runs the Footpaths Committee for Wellington Council, Tom is now looking to both continue work already in progress to protect footpaths from neglect and to make the public more aware of them as a resource. He said, “What we’re taking on is trying to publicise them more. People are unaware of so many of them. There’s already a fantastic online map produced by Somerset County Council http://roam.somerset.gov.uk/roam/map which starts at county level and on which you can zoom in to almost house level. We’ve taken photos and videos and gathered resources which may be used to help people discover and enjoy the footpaths.”
Tom and Eunice were initially involved in footpath maintenance with Wellington in Bloom and his role as PPLO has been approved by Somerset County Council to whom he is ultimately responsible. He explained: “SCC looks after ground-level tidying-up of pathways but the Footpaths Committee led by Cllr Gary James works with local volunteers to take on pruning the sides – of brambles for example – which some landowners neglect. We work throughout the year, for probably a couple of hours each week.”
As PPLO Tom also keeps watch over footpaths which run through new housing developments. He said, “I found recently that someone had put a stake and wire across a path on the new Longforth Farm estate. It was very dangerous but was removed within hours after it was reported to SCC. It’s useful to have someone keeping an eye on what’s going on. We try to get around all the minor paths at least once a year and 5 or 6 times a year along the major paths. There have been instances of footpaths running through front gardens so there’s all sorts of issues to sort out. ”
Tom said, “There are about 33 adoptive footpaths in the Parish ranging from quite short ones to beautiful paths along the canal and the Tone with fantastic views.” With Tom as PPLO working alongside Eunice and in collaboration with Cllr Gary James, perhaps in time, many more local people will become aware of them as walking routes and be reassured that they are looked after and preserved.