Rhoda Barnett, Courts and Inquiries Officer
This article is from Signpost 61, Autumn 2019
This short footpath in the village of Wensley, between Winster and Matlock, was legally recognised as a public right of way when it was added to the definitive map in April 2018 by the confirmation of a modification order made by Derbyshire County Council. The order received objections from the landowners, so was determined by a planning inspector. It is a valuable path locally, since it enables a blind bend on a narrow, busy road, with a narrow pavement, to be avoided. Local residents have been trying to get the path re-opened for public use since 2018, and PNFS has been helping over the past few weeks when the situation had become intractable.
The main problem is that because the evidence that the path was a public right of way was public use from 1990 to 2010, when a landowner blocked the path, it is not publicly maintainable. So the county council has no duty to maintain the path, and in fact it is probable that no-one has this duty. The council does, however, have a duty to remove obstructions, and a fence and part of a wall have been removed. Securing the removal of an unstable mound of earth across the width of the path, which is slippery when wet and now grows a crop of poppies, is proving more difficult. If anyone were to be hurt while using the path, the question of liability is unresolved. Nothing is straight forward in the world of rights of way legislation, but the problems on this path are proving more difficult than most. Photograph shows FP49 South Darley from east end looking west.
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