Sorry to be pedantic, but you've not read between the lines. It is the clearly stated position that the council has a statutory obligation to maintain footpaths.
If you were reading between the lines, you'd see opposition Lib Dem councillors making out the council actually wants to open the path, so they can fabricate a story on Labour waste. That has inevitably led to Labour councillors saying 'but we don't want the council to open the path either'. But who is the council that will open the path, if not its councillors?
£50k is a lot of money to remove a couple of fences and clear some undergrowth on a very short path. So where does that number come from? When challenged the councillors say it is an officers' report from August 2009. The council refused a Freedom of Information request to release that report on the grounds that it is a draft and so is unreliable and misleading. But we know that the officers did outline a more ambitious proposal to re-route and extend the path along Chorlton Brook. The £50k is probably for this much more ambitious plan. We could probably open the stretch that matters for a about £5k.