Blocked

LAST UPDATED: 22 Jul, 2008 @ 11:16
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‘A shameless neglect of duty,’ says local walking group as an incredible 30 public footpaths are cut off around Ronda alone

OVER 30 public footpaths around the Ronda area have been blocked by landowners.

Last year alone, local walking group Pasos Largos issued 18 denuncias (crime reports) against Ronda town hall for failing in its duty to keep the paths open.

The previous year (2006) the group issued 12 denuncias, while this year the number is expected to grow.

“We have issued 30 or more denuncias in the last three years in Ronda, a town which is famous for its walking,” said Jose Flores, from the group, that counts nearly 200 members.

“It’s shameless and outrageous that Ronda town hall is not taking responsibility for its public paths.

“They are not doing anything about them, or very little. Whether it is for money, or whatever, they are not defending the rights of their citizens.”

Flores, who has been in charge of the group since it set up 14 years ago, said his group is constantly at the town hall demanding something is done.

The Town Hall has a clear list of all the public paths, which by law MUST be kept open.

“Sometimes we get them opened by the local environmental police (patrulla verde), but often the following week they are shut again,” said Flores.

These include Andalucia’s most important international footpath, the GR-7, which is part of the Alcala del Valle to El Burgo route, blocked by golf developers Los Merinos.

Another path – the celebrated Camino de Gibraltar – which goes to Gibraltar via the Valle de Genal, the way has been blocked for years above the Cueva Abanico.

“The owner is a very rich man from Madrid and he has a lot of power and links with the town hall,” claimed Flores.

“The town hall needs to put a very large fine on the owner of this land, or else what message does this send to tourists and walkers?” Flores estimates that the problem is damaging tourism for Ronda.

“Around 80 per cent of the tourists who stay the night in the Serrania de Ronda come for Green Tourism or walking”, he said.

“This means that one of the very things Ronda should be doing is protecting our paths.”

A spokesman for Ronda town hall insisted that the Public Works department was “onto the issue”.

Ronda’s new head of Public Works Juan Fraile is coincidentally the tourism boss for the entire Costa del Sol.

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