‘Why was our ginnel closed?’

Residents are calling out for a ginnel which connects Leyland Lane and Earnshaw Drive to be opened again
Residents are calling out for a ginnel which connects Leyland Lane and Earnshaw Drive to be opened again

Residents are fighting to re-open a path which connects Leyland Lane and Earnshaw Drive after it closed when an old garage was demolished.

Shell owns the now-derelict land on Leyland Lane, along with the ginnel which runs beside it, but when the garage was pulled down, fences were put around the site and the popular footpath.

Coun Jane Bell, who represents the residents of Earnshaw Bridge, said: “People have been calling out for this for a long time, because it was the safest way for them to get from one side of town to the other.

“The ginnel was open for about 70 years and people have grown up using it, but when Shell demolished the garage around three years ago, they put gates up around the ginnel too.

“The lane had just been resurfaced so people were really confused when they were then denied access to it.”

She launched a petition and contacted Lancashire County Council and Shell about the issue, but says the process seems to be taking forever.

“This is one of the first things people came to me about when I was voted in as a councillor 18 months ago,” she said.

“The ginnel was great because it was very straight and well-lit.

“Now, people have to use the ginnel a bit further down the road, which can take an extra 15 minutes, and it’s quite bendy and dark.

“The church and nearby nursery also want the old ginnel back, because it was easier for people with wheelchairs and prams.”

She added: “There were a few complaints about anti-social behaviour when the ginnel was well-used, but most people say there were no problems at all.

“LCC said that wouldn’t really affect whether it should be open or not anyway.”

The county council has also been looking into a way of opening the ginnel, after Coun Bell submitted an application for it to become a footpath again.

A spokesman said: “We have received an application with regard to this issue.

“It is being considered and will need to be investigated under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.”

But when the Guardian contacted Shell, it was revealed that the access to the ginnel is not public land, so will be subject to any new owners’ plans for the site.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm that Shell owns the site, and we are currently in discussions with a buyer for the site.”