David Gosling, Footpath Inspection Co-ordinator
This article is from Signpost 62, Spring 2020
I am sure we all know places where a footpath could be improved, for example, by the addition of some steps on a steep slope (see illustration), by a boardwalk over some marshy ground, or by replacing a difficult stile with a gate.
Thanks to a change to our constitution in 2018 PNFS is now committed to “Creating, preserving and improving open spaces, public access rights and rights of way”. When this change was being debated, some feared that PNFS would be overwhelmed by Highway Authorities knocking on our door to seek funding for improvements to rights of way. But that has not happened. In fact, since the change to the constitution the Society has funded only a few, small improvement schemes, but not as many as the Trustees would like.
At a recent meeting Trustees agreed that we would make a concerted effort to contact Highway Authorities, and other bodies such as Wildlife Trusts, to advertise that the Society is open to proposals for funding footpath improvement projects. A letter is being sent which explains that the Society may now offer donations towards the cost of making improvements to an open space or public access rights, including definitive rights of way. Improvements may include replacing stiles with gates, steps, board walks, drainage and ditch crossing (ie draining the path/digging a ditch alongside) pitching /levelling. We do not fund maintenance of footpaths which is the responsibility of the Highway Authority.
This picture shows a project carried out by Calderdale Community Rights of Way Service (CROWS) above Hebden Bridge, but this project was not funded by PNFS. Maybe in the future similar projects could be!.
Members can play an important role in identifying potential improvement projects which could be considered for funding. A Footpath Improvement Advisory group has been set up to consider all proposals and to make recommendations to the full meeting of Trustees. Suggestions from members for improvement projects are welcome.
If you wish to make a proposal please provide a brief description of the improvements you have in mind, the location (parish and path number) with grid refs and photos of the current situation which show the issue to be addressed. Ideas will need to be converted to fully costed proposals which have been agreed by the Highway Authority. However, the Society’s officers can help with translating your ideas into a realistic project.
The trustees will be using these criteria to select projects: 1. the path or open space is of importance for the enjoyment of walkers 2. proposed improvements are feasible, sustainable and at a realistic cost 3. the improvement satisfies the public benefit test as set out in Charity Commission guidance
We are particularly keen to support volunteer groups, affiliated clubs, and local Ramblers groups who have ideas for footpath improvements but who lack sufficient funding to turn good ideas into something that will actually benefit walkers. Of course, we also continue to fund bridges and signposts and our bridges and signpost officers are also interested in potential new projects.
So why not get in touch and we can discuss how the Society can help you develop a footpath improvement project. Contact us via email at email@example.com
Next: Stanton by Dale FP18
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