ACTION is being taken to improve access to footpaths between Oakworth and Branshaw Golf Club after concerns were raised by walkers.

The new owner of a field off Slaymaker Lane has promised to make both official paths across the land easily passable while keeping walkers away from her animals.

Janet Arkwright, who lives with her family in a mobile home on the 10-acre field, revealed her plans after a site meeting with Bradford Council's rights-of-way officer.

Local residents had approached the council after Ms Arkwright erected an electric fence to contain a signposted path that runs directly from Slaymaker Lane to the golf course, and in doing so blocked access to the second path.

Both routes are shown on Ordnance Survey maps as public footpaths, closely following the field's perimeter walls, but Ms Arkwright insists she had not known about the second path because it was not on Land Registry documents.

Over the years the exact route of the second path has become overgrown, and its access off Slaymaker Lane blocked by a damaged dry stone wall.

Following the site visit, the council officer has given Ms Arkwright three weeks to make the second path accessible along its entire route. She said the council had offered to install a gate in the wall.

Ms Arkwright, who was brought up in Oakworth, said: "People just cross over the field with their dogs. The path should be right up against the wall – we will reinstate the original footpath and cut back the vegetation.

"The paths will be fenced off from both sides. People can't come into the field for their own safety."

Ms Arkwright plans to use the field for her own five horses and up to 10 rescue horses, as well as alpacas, sheep, geese and hens.

Concerns were initially raised by local walker Paul Harrison, of Oakworth Road, who said the twin footpaths had been popular for at least 40 years, particularly a picturesque route through rhododendron bushes.

He said: "It has been a much-used escape route for residents of Oakworth and Exley Head during the present lockdown. It is used both for local recreation and as a through-route by walkers and runners.

"The circular nature of the route makes it popular with those who don't want to go too far for their exercise. It is also part of an important walking route from the Keighley area towards the moorland tracks beyond."

Worth Valley ward councillor Rebecca Poulsen said she had received complaints from local people about the footpath being blocked, the electric fence, and walkers been told to get off the land.

She added: "It is important that when land is bought owners are aware of their responsibilities over public footpaths and that they are not blocked."

Bradford Council spokesman said the new owner had been contacted to discuss the matter further, adding: "It is hoped that the issue can be resolved amicably without us needing to consider taking further action.

"We have a duty to assert and protect public access to the rights of way network.

"While all obstructions are taken seriously we make every attempt to resolve matters amicably and if that approach fails we will consider taking enforcement action."