CARDIGAN Town Council are seeking a path forward in their continuing dispute with a local businessman over a riverside right of way.

James Lynch, the man behind Piza Tipi, contends that the route along the River Teifi has fallen into disuse and wants public access to it blocked.

The controversial entrepreneur, who is opening The Albion, a 23-room hotel celebrating Cardigan’s maritime heritage at the location, has previously told the council he would then be ‘more inclined’ to allow public access across the site from the nearby pedestrian bridge.

But his suggestion drew a furious response from councillors who accused him of reverting to ‘blackmail’ in order to further the business.

Now members are calling on Ceredigion County Council’s Rights of Way Officer to intervene in an effort to break the stand-off.

Cllr Steve Greenhalgh told colleagues that a pair of cargo containers placed at the site ‘appeared to block access (to the path) as far as I can see’.

He added that he had felt he could not safely proceed further along the path as he sought to establish the extent of the littering Mr Lynch had claimed was being caused by groups drinking and fishing from the wharf in front of the Granary.

Cllr Greenhalgh said he had been told that the old footpath was ‘tidal’, but Cllr Olwen Davies insisted it was open when the Granary was being used as a heritage centre.

“Once the work is finished down there hopefully we could then find out the exact course of the path,” commented Cllr Trystan Phillips.

Cllr Richard Jones felt there was a strong case for retaining the path.

“It may not be an official route, but if it has been used by the public for over twenty years then surely it can be adopted?” he added.

However, Cllr Nick Bolton said such a move would have to be approved by the Land Registry and could result in a dispute ending up in the courts.

In a letter to the council in February, Mr Lynch maintained access to the footpath was limited.

“(It’s) either used by tourists who think that there is a path to St Dogs and then have to immediately turn around or by youngsters hanging around and getting up to minor mischief,” he added.

“We have also had issues with loud groups drinking and fishing from the wharf in front of the Granary, disturbing guests and leaving rubbish behind and when challenged (mistakenly) citing a public right of access.

“I don’t want further public access that could lead to more mistaken assumptions and aggravation, particularly once the hotel is fully functioning.”