An Arbory and Rushen Commissioner says cutting a public footpath breaks an ‘ancient link’ that people have used for decades.

Kirrie Jenkins made the statement at a public meeting last night about the Department of Infrastructure’s plan to prevent residents from using a right of way at Ballacannel.

The public was told the path they had been using was not identified on a ‘definitive’ map, but the government representative said if the situation wasn’t resolved it could go to a public enquiry.

Arbory and Rushen Commissioner Kirrie Jenkins said: ‘Ballacannell is the link between Earystane and the Sloc and so cutting this part of the highway breaks that link and breaks that ancient right that we have all had.

‘It came out a few years ago when new owners moved in and they wanted to close the access, and there has been a long protracted correspondence with attempted footpath diversions and ultimately the DoI has decided that rather than following the legislation and closing a highway through an order, they wouldn’t recognise there was a highway in the first place.

‘The way it has been done, we are now being forced into a public enquiry, so we have to present our evidence to get that right back.

‘I know the owners of Ballacannell are in a very difficult position, this is not personal, this is all about the rights of residents who have enjoyed this for a long time.’

Arbory and Rushen Commissioner Jane Glover said: ‘It is not just in recent years, I think it goes back to 2019 when there were first moots about changing the routes, diversions etc.

‘It makes you think, if this is happening here, where else is it happening, and I think we have to have a little bit of sympathy for people in the department, we heard tonight that maps are wrong, and yet they are legally bound to follow them, so it worries me about the area, but also the Isle of Man as a whole.’