Our blood is BOILING with ‘bully’ developer who dumped thousands of tonnes of mud over footpath after row with locals
A COMMUNITY's collective blood is boiling after a developer buried a well-loved footpath under thousands of tonnes of mud.
Furious residents feel they've been "dumped on" following the mass offload on the almost 100-year-old pathway and concrete steps linking a hillside housing estate to the nearby village.
Locals remember using it to get to church on a Sunday, and it was popular with dog walkers and children played there in the summer.
But following a neighbourhood feud, a local businessman turned up with diggers and lorry loads of “scalping” to turn the path into a mud bath.
All that remains now is the handrail alongside where the concrete steps linked the Stormtown estate to the village of Trelewis, near Merthyr Tydfil in the Welsh Valleys.
One furious resident said: “It’s an absolute disgrace – people have used the path for generations, it’s a shortcut to the village.
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“It makes my blood boil to see it covered in brown mud and no longer usable as a footpath.
“It feels like we’ve been dumped on from a great height, if you get my meaning.”
Locals claim businessman Christopher Rees has “acted out of spite” after falling out with a handful of Stormtown residents.
They claim his actions have now ruined an amenity, that according to local maps has been a right of way since 1926.
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Lawyers have been called in and an action group set up to reclaim the pathway, which locals say is a vital link between their estate of 92 houses and the former mining village of Trelewis.
A leading campaigner, who fears being named, said: “Mr Rees owns the land alongside the footpath but we say the path itself is a public right of way.
“We have asked the local council to act but they are denying it’s anything to do with them which is a bit strange because they repaired the concrete steps and put up the metal handrail.
“It has caused a lot of ill feeling. The footpath has been there for as long as anyone can remember and now it’s gone and we’re having to live with an ugly brown scar on our doorstep.”
Locals say Rees turned up in the middle of the night with lorry loads of scalping – mud and debris from a nearby road project.
They have video footage of a digger spreading the mud over the path at 1.30am, keeping families with young children awake.
The local activist said: “Mr Rees fell out with one or two people on the estate and has gone out of his way to make things difficult for all of us.
“He can do what he wants with the land he owns next to the path but he’s behaving like a bully.”
'IT MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL'
Homeowners on the neat hillside estate say the local water board is involved because three manhole covers on the path have been buried under the muck.
Ugly fenceposts made of old telegraph poles have also been installed around Mr Rees’s land, annoying locals even further.
Mum-of-two Rebekah Stone, 44, a project administrator with the University of South Wales, said: “He’s having a temper tantrum and not doing himself any good with the locals.
“He needs to understand the gravity of his actions.
“He’s ripped up a load of the mountain and has ruined a path that has been there since the houses were built in the 1920s.
“Elder people use those steps, a young mum uses them with her buggy, they are part of the community.”
Landowner Christopher Rees, who runs a nearby skip hire business, said he would not back down and the pathway will remain covered up as it is rightly his and is not being used for commercial purposes.
He also accused one of the residents of Stormtown of attacking him with a metal chain in the neighbourhood row.
It’s an absolute disgrace – people have used the path for generations.
He said: "I have owned the land for about two years and I can do what I like with it.
"There are about 20 people on the estate who have fallen out with me, accused me of fly-tipping on the land and other things.
"I actually gave free skips out to a local man who was cleaning up fly-tipping in the area and I've offered to resurface a road at the bottom of the land for free.
"My plan is to fence off all the land that is mine and that will give some clarity to people who say I don't own the path."
Mr Rees also told WalesOnline that piling earth on the steps was his response to the "continuous harassment" by a minority of residents.
"I have been extremely patient with them over the last two years and have provided them with lots of clarity and insight into the work I am carrying out," he said.
"However, they are under the impression that I am not the legal owner of the land and have continued to make false statements that could potentially cause me a lot of trouble."
As a result, Rees said he decided to stop "certain individuals" accessing his land.
"Sadly though, that means other residents will also lose that privilege," he added.
"I believe I am within my rights to do this as the route in question is not a public right of way.
"It is not marked on the definitive Merthyr Borough map and residents are not legally allowed to use it."
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Mr Rees says he intends to use the land as grazing for his two show jumping horses.
Merthyr County Borough Council is understood to be investigating.
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