Concerns over decades of delays to change footpaths by | Gloucester News Centre - http://gloucesternewscentre.co.uk/
Serious concerns have been raised over the “decades” delay in the registration of public footpaths in Gloucestershire as people “die waiting” for their applications to be processed.
The definitive map and statement is the legal record of public rights of way, showing all the routes where the public have the right to walk, ride, cycle and drive.
There were 168 undetermined definitive map modification orders and three outstanding town and village green applications as of March 31, last year.
And a formal complaint was lodged against Gloucestershire County Council’s statement of accounts because of this issue by a member of the public.
The delays to some of the cases are so bad that in four cases the applicant has since died.
Speaking at the audit and governance committee meeting on January 20, Gloucestershire County Councillor David Willingham (LD, St Mark’s and St Peter’s) said the objector has valid concerns.
He said: “In 2011, we had 3,500 miles of public rights of way. We are predominantly a rural county. We’ve all been sent a spreadsheet which shows there were five applications for public rights of way that were made in the 1990s. The oldest one appears to have been made on October 29, 1990.
“It looks like someone is asleep at the wheel. I know there are difficulties but this has been a long time coming.
“This matter has been raised with questions to the council. It has been raised at environment scrutiny. It has now come to audit and the external auditors.
“Someone needs to look at getting a grip of this. We’ve got to a point where a member of the public has put in an objection because the council is rather slow in getting this sorted.”
Policy, performance and governance director Rob Ayliffe explained the delays were long because other applications have been deemed of a higher priority.
He said: “While not wanting to excuse the fact there have been those delays. We are not typical as a county council in that being the case.
“We’ve done some benchmarking against other councils to understand if these backlogs exist elsewhere.
“We haven’t been helped by the fact legislation was passed some time ago which had a guillotine in it which meant any rights of way not registered by 2026 could then never be registered. That has created an artificial urgency that has increased demand quite significantly.”
Speaking after the meeting, Chas Townley, who put in a formal complaint to the auditor over how Gloucestershire County Council that the council was dealing with rights of way matters, expressed frustration but said he was pleased the environment scrutiny committee will be asked to look at the issues and report back.
By Carmelo Garcia – Local Democracy Reporter
Gloucester News Centre – http://gloucesternewscentre.co.uk