A woman believes the closure of Spalding’s Coronation Channel footpath because of vandalism and disorder is “taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
The woman, who asked not to be named, has accused the Environment Agency of taking away her rights to walk her dog along the footpath known as Cowbit Sluice.
Residents have complained about noisy drinkers using Coronation Channel as a swimming pool and vandals ripping up thorny shrubs planted to stop anti-social behaviour.
But the woman claims the Environment Agency has misled people about the real reason for fencing off the footpath with a notice saying that it was due to “flood defence works.”
“I was on holiday in Australia when talk of the footpath being closed for good first started in February,” the woman said.
“When I came back to Spalding, I just accepted that the Environment Agency was doing flood defence works until one day when I took my dog for a walk along the road near the path and didn’t see any work going on.
“I rang the Environment Agency who said the path had been closed because of some disturbances and residents complaining to the police about the problem.
“It seems unacceptable to me that a public right of way should be shut off when all that is needed is to put up a notice saying no swimming or noisy behaviour.”
Residents living near Coronation Channel shared their anger with the Spalding Guardian in February when a couple claimed their fence had been damaged by vandals.
But the woman said: “I’ve lived near Coronation Channel since the 1990s and I’ve used the footpath hundreds of times.
“I feel like I’m being deprived of my rights and it just seems as if the Environment Agency is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “The footpath was fenced off after a meeting between ourselves, South Holland District Council and the police.
“There is no public access to it but we didn’t realise a sign was still up and it will be taken down immediately.”
Spalding community policing inspector Jim Tyner said: “The Coronation Channel should be an area of enjoyment for all of us but unfortunately the actions of a few spoil it for others.”