HIGHWAYS boss Philip Whitehead has assured canal users in Devizes that a black asphalt put on the tow path is only an under layer.

The Wiltshire Council cabinet member said he had received worried emails and phone calls from people thinking the path was going to be left with a black surface that would look too urban and spoil the rural nature of the tow path.

But he assured people that the finished look would be bonded stone as agreed with Devizes Area Board and the town council.

He said: "This is the finish that is preferred by the Canal and River Trust who are doing the work and are the experts. It is different to the finish at Quakers Walk but once it is weathered in I don't think people will be able to tell the difference. I don't think it will look more urban."

"This is the surface I wanted for Quakers Walk but people voted against it. This is harder wearing and will not have to be replaced so often. When the Quakers Walk path was first finished it looked very bright but it soon weathered in and this will do the same."

But Philippa Morgan of Victoria Road, Devizes, who was one of those who campaigned against Quakers Walk having a paved path, said: "To my mind they should be the same. It's certainly not what I think everyone is expecting. Not sure why they couldn't repeat what's been done on Quakers Walk. This will be more urban looking."

Mr Whitehead said he thought that the tow path project which also involved widening work would make it much safer and easier for people using it.

He said: "It will be much better for people in wheelchairs or with push chairs. It will also be safer as at the moment cyclists have to use their bells if they need to overtake people walking and it can cause a bit of alarm. But once it is finished cyclists will have room to just go around."

He said work was scheduled to finish on Friday but it was weather dependant.