A BARRHEAD grandfather has raised concerns over the future of the town’s historic ‘rights of way’ as more new homes are built.

William Dyer, who has lived in the town all his life, fears many of the footpaths will start to disappear as various estates spring up over the next few years.

The 66-year-old retired railway engineer was disappointed to discover one traditional footpath – Shanks Way – was blocked for more than a week when he went for a recent walk.

It had been fenced off by a builder during construction work.

The footpath, which is more than 100 years old, stretches from Grahamston Road to Dealston Road and is named after the former site of the Shanks ceramic sanitaryware factory.

Mr Dyer told the Barrhead News: “My worry is that footpaths like Shanks Way will simply disappear or become harder to access.

“The path at the Dealston Road end was blocked off for almost two weeks.

“It’s been on the Ordnance Survey map since 1911 and is part of the history of the town and it would be a shame if it was lost.”

Mr Dyer said Shanks Way was a godsend for him during the Covid pandemic after suffering a stroke in March last year, as it gave him somewhere to exercise and get fresh air while observing social distancing.

He walks the route almost every day, often with his wife Myra, and said it is also popular with dog owners and other locals.

Mr Dyer, who has two grown-up sons, added: “I know of homeowners living near Shanks Way who have been fined for taking trees down without permission.

“Surely we should be affording the same protection to paths like this?

“With various developments using up all the open ground adjacent to Shanks Way, I am concerned for its future.”

Mr Dyer is also calling on East Renfrewshire Council to take action against flytippers who dump rubbish on the footpath, turning it into an eyesore.

Councillor Paul Aitken, who represents Barrhead, said he shares Mr Dyer’s concerns.

He added: “I feel that East Renfrewshire Council have used the last 18 months of lockdown as a smokescreen for the closing of roads to cars and not protecting existing rights of way to pedestrians.

“I am calling for them to look into the preservation of Shanks Way.”

A spokesperson for East Renfrewshire Council said: “We have a duty to keep rights of way open and free from obstruction and any new developments should not impact this.

“On some occasions, it may be required to close a right of way for a short period to allow construction work to be carried out safely, which can be permitted as part of the planning permission granted.”