Longest-running legal dispute over a Somerset footpath returns to court

Britain’s longest-running legal dispute, which relates to a footpath in Langport, Somerset, is heading to court once again.

Archie and Ivy Peppard first took issue with their county council when it decided to designate a route that ran through their rural property as a public footpath in 1959.

However, the pair only launched legal proceedings in 1973, after failing to change Somerset County Council’s initial decision.

The family erected a gate to stop people from trespassing on their land, but a county court Judge ruled that they had to remove it.

The legal case has continued despite the couple’s respective deaths in 2011, due to the fact that their son decided to continue the legal fight.

Last year, thanks to a judicial review, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) sided with the family and the council agreed to remove the track from its map records.

However, due to the council’s delay in making the update, Ron Peppard has opted to take further legal action, to stop walkers going across the land.

Despite the most recent ruling, Somerset County Council states that it cannot remove the footpath from its records while there have been objections to its removal lodged by members of the public.

The council has argued that the Secretary of State will have to consider all the objections raised in relation to the case before they can take any action.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.