How are Rights of Way managed?
Worcestershire County Council is responsible for the management
of the public rights of way network in the county. This
responsibility is carried out primarily by the Council's
Countryside Service Access Team.
With nearly 16,000 individual public rights of way there is a
considerable range of issues to address including vegetation
growth, signposting and waymarking, repair and replacement of
bridges, blocked paths, stiles and gates in need of repair and
drainage and surfacing problems.
Who carries out this work?
Whilst the overall responsibility to ensure public rights of way
are available for the use and enjoyment of the public rests with
the County Council as Highway Authority, responsibilities are
divided between the Council and landowners and occupiers.
The County Council is responsible for:
- Signposting paths where they leave a metalled road
- Waymarking along the route of paths
- Clearance of undergrowth i.e. natural vegetation growing
through the path surface
- Maintenance of most bridges and ditch crossings
- Ensuring landowners and occupiers comply with their
Landowners and occupiers are responsible for:
- Maintenance of stiles and gates
- Clearance of overgrowth i.e. vegetation growing from the sides
- Re-instatement of paths after ploughing
- Keeping paths clear of crops
- Making sure they don't obstruct paths in other ways
How is this work organised?
Necessary work is carried out through a number of different
work programmes including general maintenance and improvement,
larger scale projects (such as large bridges, or drainage and
surfacing work) and partnerships with local volunteers (volunteering)
and parish councils. Some of the work is done in response to
problems reported by the public (report a problem) and some through planned
programmes such as the summer strimming or signposting
Apart from work undertaken by the Council's contractors, many
problems, particularly lower priorities, are resolved by local
Parish Paths Wardens and other volunteers.
Most landowners and occupiers carry out their responsibilities
without contact or action by the County Council.
Occasionally, however, some landowners or occupiers fail to comply
with their statutory duties and the Council is required to resolve
the matter. Normally this is achieved through co-operation
but, if necessary, the Council will serve legal notice, take direct
action to clear an obstruction and/or consider prosecution.
How is the work prioritised?
Given the extensive network of paths in the county, and the
different uses made of them, some paths have different maintenance
needs from others. For example, a path regularly used by families,
perhaps with pushchairs, to access the village school, will
probably require a level, tarmaced surface, strimming of
undergrowth if necessary during the summer months, be free of
stiles and require prompt response to any problems that
arise. On the other hand, a footpath in a remote rural
location is more likely to be visited by more experienced walkers
who are competent map readers, able to climb stiles as well as cope
with some undergrowth and, thus, maintenance standards may not need
to be so high or dealt with so quickly.
Consequently, following extensive consultation with parish
councils, local parish paths warden volunteers, user groups and
land management groups, each path in the county has been allocated
a classification (A,B,C or D), not dissimilar to the classification
of roads. Allocated classifications reflect the level and type
of use and hence the needs of communities and other users.
Path classifications can be seen on the public
rights of way map.
The classification allocated to a path is, of course, not
necessarily fixed for ever. If it is felt that the classification
needs to be amended due to changing use, and perhaps suggestion
from a parish council or users, then this can be done.
Across the whole network of paths in the county, the County
Council has several thousand problems to tackle each year, whether
reported by the public or identified by officers. Given this
volume, problems need to be prioritised and this is determined by
considering the path classification, referred to above, alongside
the severity of the problem and its impact on path users. Taking
account of the path classification and problem severity, the County
Council's Countryside Access Team allocates a priority between 1
and 6 to each identified problem or issue.
Problems are normally addressed in order of priority. For
example, a Priority 1 will be inspected and fixed, made safe or, if
necessary, temporarily closed, as a matter of urgency. Other
priority problems are also generally dealt with in order of their
priority although it often makes sense to include some lower
priority work with higher priority work in the same locality.
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This page was last reviewed 7 August 2013 at 9:22.
The page is next due for review 3 February 2015.