Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

News, December 2009

PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY ENFORCEMENT FORUM

Rights of Way Enforcement Forum

Tuesday 4th December saw a new initiative led by PNFS when 30 Rights of Way Officers from across our region were invited to share Best Practice relating to Public Rights of Way Enforcement Policy.

David Bratt welcomed the delegates, who are collectively responsible for over 28,000 km (17,500 miles) of Public Rights of Way. David presented a brief history of the Society and told the delegates that the main purpose of the Society is to:

“Defeat those who would deny us- the public, the right to walk in peace, in safety, and in enjoyment whilst responsibly using our precious footpath heritage”

Mike Taylor presented Cheshire County Councils view on enforcement, graphically illustrated with scenes of JCBs removing obstructions ranging from garden walls to farm outbuildings built on the line of Public Footpaths.

JCB removing footpath obstructions in Cheshire

(photo courtesy of Mike Taylor, Cheshire County Council)

                                       

He stressed the role of the Authority to “Assert & Protect” walker’s rights, the need for “Protocols & Policies” setting out how the authority would respond to a variety of situations. He went on to detail the need for “Debt Recovery” and when appropriate “Prosecution” as part of the Enforcement Officers tool kit.

Clare Mc Roy, Rotherham MBC, expressed the view that “when enforcement action is taken, that is the choice made by the landowner in acting as they have in a particular situation- the Authority has no choice, it is duty bound to act!”

Terry Norris provided a “User Perspective” in a lively and amusing presentation covering a range of subjects including “Effective Enforcement”, “Abuse & Threats” and “Legal Duties”.

Terry Norris addresses Forum

Paul Green, Natural England, presented the organisations role and strategic objectives which was followed by a lively question and answer session from the delegates.

During the Open Forum delegates agreed it was desirable to have a sound enforcement protocol in place but whether it was attainable would depend on the degree to which the political elements in the various Authorities would be prepared to accept it. Cheshire had achieved such an agreed protocol and the delegates would take that away for further consideration.

Overall the delegates rated the event as “Very Good” with several suggesting that PNFS should host similar events in the future, an option that the Officers and Trustees will be considering.

 

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Page title:News, December 2009
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