A PATH in Worcester is to remain open, despite claims it is a haunt for vandals and "flashers".

City councillors were asked last night to consider sealing off the path between Bilford Avenue and the canal towpath.

Arsonists have attacked two properties in Bilford Avenue, the transportation sub-committee was told.

"They burned down fences and caused between £4,000-5,000 damage," said Councillor Mary Drinkwater, who called for the 11ft-wide path to be shut off.

"It's also alleged that 'flashers' lurk on this path."

Householders' fences were at risk from Elgar High School pupils, said Coun Drinkwater, who represents St Stephen ward.

But other councillors were concerned that the council should be seen as standing up to hooligans.

Coun Ray Turner said it was essential to keep open the public right of way, for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists.

"That path is a 'pedway' and has been tarmaced. It's very well used," he said.

"You shouldn't give into vandals. It's like saying we shouldn't build buildings because sometimes people paint graffiti on them."

The head of transportation, John Day, warned that a magistrates' court order would be needed to seal off the route. He told the meeting vandalism was not a sufficient reason and recommended refusing the request for closure.

Fellow St Stephen ward councillor Stephen Inman disagreed with Coun Drinkwater, saying that the council had invested in the cycle and pedestrian network.

A vote was taken to reject the proposal. Coun Drinkwater was the only member to support closure of the path.

PC Mike Digger, West Mercia police's traffic management officer, said the force had "no views" on the matter, but promised to raise the councillor's concerns with the beat manager for the area.