A ROW has erupted over a wall dividing two Bideford housing estates. The Bideford wall appeared early this month, blocking a shortcut between the former council estate at Stucley Road and the private estates of Moreton Park/Moreton Avenue. It was built by

A ROW has erupted over a wall dividing two Bideford housing estates.The Bideford wall appeared early this month, blocking a shortcut between the former council estate at Stucley Road and the private estates of Moreton Park/Moreton Avenue.It was built by Tarka Housing, which last year took over responsibility for Torridge council homes.Tarka said the route crossed private land, was illegal and had been the source of complaints.But campaigners argue that the footpath had been in use for nearly half-a-century and was an established right of way.Residents gathered at the site and their representative Claire Bear presented a petition bearing an estimated 250-300 names to local councillor Simon Inch, with the promise of more to come. Campaigner Timothy Colwill recalled that in the 1970s there had been an attempt to block the path and a fence was built. But people had campaigned against it and a metal framework was installed in the fence so that people could again get through.On this occasion, no notice was given and people had no chance to object prior to the work being done, he said."There is great anger at Torridge District Council and Tarka Homes for their total disregard for the residents of Stucley Road and the estates beyond. There is now no easy access to the woods, Moreton Park stores or the schools. It also cuts off the playing field from those using it from the Moreton Park side."Stuart Cook of Stucley Road said people now faced a journey of 1.2 miles to the community shop in Moreton Park, rather than a short walk.Paula Yarde, who runs the shop, said her concern was not about lost money, but that people needed to be able to get to the shop for essential supplies.It was not just Stucley Road people who used the path, but people from Moreton Park went in the opposite direction to take their children to school. Names on the petition were from both Stucley Road and Moreton Park, she said.Jeanette Lawrence said the path had been used as a right of way for all the 42 years she had been in Stucley Road.And Greta Walter, who has lived in Stucley Road for 36 years, said that in days gone by it was used to provide access for workers living in cottages at Handy Cross to the big house at Moreton.But a representative of Moreton Avenue Neighbourhood Watch group said the path was, in fact, just a muddy slope through a gap in the hedge and its use had been trespass, because it crossed the forecourts of a block of garages that belonged to the garage owners.It had presented problems over many years, including vandalism, grafitti, damage to property and danger, they said."There have been times when balls and even tyres have been rolled down the slope and across the road, where they could have hit people or passing traffic and there have been similar problems with mini-motorbikes being ridden through the gap and straight across the road." A statement from Tarka Homes said: 'This is a longstanding issue, about which residents of Moreton Avenue have been complaining to Torridge District Council. "The council was planning to take action to block this illegal access over private property - action which, following the housing stock transfer, Tarka Housing as the adjacent landowner has taken forward. "While we appreciate for some residents this may have been a short cut, it has increasingly become a problem due to vandalism and damage to private property. Tarka Housing, therefore, has had to take action to block this unofficial shortcut. We sympathise that this may inconvenience some residents, however, they must appreciate that they were crossing private land.