A LONGSTANDING row over a much-needed footpath has been reignited, after those spearheading the project were told they could not ask questions.

Caldbeck parish council has been wanting to create a footpath alongside the lane linking Caldbeck and Hesket Newmarket since 2017.

It secured a £100,000 donation by a resident to construct the footpath, put in fences and gates, and pay compensation to landowners.

But councillors say the county council is refusing to issue a Footpath Creation Order due to potential legal costs and the disagreement of two out of 10 landowners.

Last week parish councillors attempted to ask a question at the county’s full council meeting, but claim they were told they couldn’t.

The question would have asked councillors to issue the Footpath Creation Order.

A spokesman for the parish council said: “It is deeply frustrating that the entire project, which should have been a model of collaborative working that fits so well with the county council’s professed leadership role for Local Government in Cumbria, has made such little progress.

“But at no stage has the county council been willing to sit down with the National Park and the parish council at cabinet or senior level to see how best all parties could work to establish a footpath of lasting benefit to the community, largely funded by a donation.”

The parish council claim the county council argued there had already been a separate complaints process on the footpath and “putting full council in the position of appeals forum would be inappropriate”.

The parish council also accused the county council of attempting to bury a report by its independent reviewer, which was later disclosed following intervention by the Information Commissioner.

Instead, they say, they published a second report confined to looking at the process followed, not the merit of the decision not to support the footpath.

A spokesman for the Caldbeck authority said: “It is deeply concerning that the county council rewrote the original report and then sought to cover up that fact.

“Without the intervention of the Information Commissioner, no one would have known what had taken place.”

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “We appreciate how disappointed Caldbeck parish council is, however the council has followed all of its processes and has no statutory obligation to progress a creation order of a new footpath. The council offered additional support of mediation between the parish council and the landowners, but this was not followed through.”