A family which blocked off a lane used by villagers has an obstructed path on its property, it has emerged.
The Lydiate and Halbert family at Melkridge near Haltwhistle, which owns the town’s Kilfrost Factory, has been involved in a bitter dispute with local residents after it blocked access to a lane near its home.
Now, it has emerged that an obstructed public footpath exists on the family’s land.
However, Melkridge Parish Council, which is fighting to have the lane reopened, has said it will not be taking any action over the path.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that a “private land” sign put up by the family, owner of the 50 job deicer producing factory, sits on public property.
Gary Lydiate, who lives with wife Louise Halbert and mother-in-law Maureen Halbert at Melkridge Hall, blocked off the lane close to the family’s Melkridge Hall home last year.
However, residents at Melkridge who claimed to have used the lane historically, applied with the parish council to Northumberland County Council to have it registered as a public right of way in an effort to get it reopened.
They said it is the safest point at which to cross the busy A69, which divides the village.
Forty four residents submitted evidence of more than 20 years use to the county council, which subsequently made an order proposing it be registered a right of way.
The family and four others have since objected to the order, meaning there could be an inquiry, and sought a judicial review of the county’s handling of the application.
Now, it has emerged that an obstructed public footpath has run through the hall’s garden since the 1950s. The parish council had written to the county council clarifying the path’s status having been approached by some villagers.
Parish chairman Pat Reed last night said: “People were saying, ‘look there’s one through his garden, no-one has ever complained about it.’
“It was more a display of ‘we are not being difficult’.
“We are not asking for the lonnen to be kept open because of bureaucracy. There was a real reason, there was a point of safety and access.”
She said the parish has no plans to take any action over the path.
Meanwhile, the county’s response confirms that the private land sign is on public highway.
However, the authority has said it will not be taking action to remove the sign as it is not causing an obstruction or safety problem.
Coun Reed said: “It is annoying that all the years I had a camping caravan site, they would not let me put signs up but they will allow a sign up saying private property even though it is not true.”
The family declined to comment.