CONCERNS have been raised over the state and openness of footpaths in Saddleworth.

Saddleworth North Cllr Pam Byrne, the Oldham Conservative's lead on neighbourhoods, has asked the council for a “suitable budget and time to recommence rules and laws” to maintain footpaths and bridleways and make sure they are open to walkers.

Cllr Byrne has sent a question to the cabinet regarding the matter with the intention of it to be discussed at the next full council meeting.

The Ramblers Association said the Oldham Council is one of its "councils of concern having cut their path budget by 58 per cent" in a year.

Cllr Byrne said: “Enforcements and actions to rectify these issues have been almost non-existent by the council. It does not just fall on willing volunteers to put this right.”

Fellow Saddleworth North representative, Cllr Luke Lancaster, has been working on several footpaths.

After securing replacements to broken board walks in the Castleshaw Valley, attention has now turned to the blocked FP172 footpath beside the Three Crowns Inn pub in Scouthead.

Cllr Lancaster said: “I am glad that a notice for the removal of all obstructions on this footpath has now been issued and hopefully access will soon be enjoyed again.

"However, Oldham Council has a lot more work to do to account for recent shortcomings.

"It was not that long ago that our borough was confirmed as having the lowest spend per mile of rights of way.”

Footpaths in particular continue to be a focus for Conservative councillors across Saddleworth, who have been working on complaints and concerns from villagers.

It is feared that footpaths are at risk of disappearing as a result of lost signage and the rights of way being blocked altogether.

In Saddleworth South, Cllr Max Woodvine has been working with the public right of way officer on particularly problematic footpaths including FP220 in Friezland where, despite securing repairs to the bridge over the River Tame, the gate remains bolted.

Many of the overgrown footpaths through the fields up to Lydgate have also been reported by Cllr Woodvine, with a view to cutting the vegetation back allowing open access.

He said: “It is illegal to block footpaths so anybody doing it deliberately should be mindful of that. Sometimes land which rights of way run through are unregistered meaning no enforcement action can be taken. Land Registry helps us to identify those responsible.

"If the council committed more money to footpaths, most of which are located in Saddleworth, we could achieve more.”

Oldham Council has been approached for a comment.