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Frustrated residents are up in arms over a steel gate that has been put up to block what they claim is a public footpath used for 50 years.

The path, in Newthorpe, runs from Main Street and across fields.

But two weeks ago, Richard Maher, whose house runs alongside the path, put up a locked gate preventing access.

He says the route is not a public right of way and the gate carries two posters — one featuring a picture of a Star Wars character with the message ‘This is not the path you’re looking for’ and a site map. But locals are adamant they have a right to use the path.

Colin Ivorson says his 83-year-old father-in-law used the footpath to visit the grave of his late wife, and is said to be ‘traumatised’.

Mr Ivorson, of nearby Baldwin Street, said: “A couple of times a month if the weather is okay, he manages to walk across the fields to the churchyard. He has done it for a couple of years now – ever since his wife passed away.

“He is quite traumatised about it.

“The only way he gets to go to the church now is if we drive him.”

The footpath also joins up with other walkways so, locals claim, the gate has stopped walkers accessing Main Street from more than direction.

Mr Ivorson says neighbours are ‘up in arms’.

“There’s a lot of people who walk dogs over those fields,” he said. “I look after dogs for several people myself and that was one of my regular routes.

“These footpaths have criss-crossed these fields for years. I’ve been walking them myself for 40 years.

Mr Maher said he was led to believe the path went through the farm next door.

“I have a map on the gate showing this. I am in talks with Nottinghamshire County Council at the moment.”

But the farm owners, who did not want to be named, said they built Mr Maher’s house themselves, and they had documents to prove the path goes past his property, and had done so for 50 years.

Nottinghamshire County Council said the matter is being looked into by their legal team, and becasue of that they were unable to comment.