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Tricky footpath situation
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tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44226
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 9:44 am    Post subject: Tricky footpath situation  Reply with quote    

Yesterday I noticed some people cutting across from one footpath to the other, about 300 mtrs away, I went and spoke to them asking whether they knew that they were not following the public footpath. One of the party replied "Yes, I've been walking this way for 30 years", I'd assume as a pre-emptive strike:

Ramblers wrote:
In legal theory most paths become rights of way because the owner "dedicates" them to public use. In fact very few paths have been formally dedicated, but the law assumes that if the public uses a path without interference for some period of time - set by statute at 20 years - then the owner had intended to dedicate it as a right of way.

A public path that has been unused for 20 years does not cease to be public (except in Scotland). The legal maxim is "once a highway, always a highway".

Paths can also be created by agreement between local authorities and owners or by compulsory order, subject, in the case of objection, to confirmation by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or the National Assembly for Wales.


We had a long chat about what we're doing with the land etc, it turns out that he's a local councillor and wants to get someone from the Parish Council round to do a little piece for the newsletter.

I didn't raise the issue of the footpath, what should I do? Obviously a councillor saying that he's walked that way for 30 yrs will probably be useful for those wanting to get a new footpath between the two others....

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hmm, I suppose the biggest issue is whether walkers using this 'new' route will do any damage to your plans for the land. If not, it might be best to delineate a route that accepts that people have and will walk that way and be seen to be friendly and accomodating whist simultaneously making it clear that you have shown clearly what the acceptable route is. If the route could compromise your plans, then its another kettle of fish.

Footpath disputes always seem to get messy, I recall one footpath sign near my parents that had the official 'Public Footpath' bit then in very small letters added by the farmer 'if you can climb under the barbed wire fence...' Never pleasant, and in my opinion worth working with the locals if at all possible.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Difficult one. Depending on where the new footpath would be (and how well used it is), you might be best off allowing it; better for getting on with the neighbours, and it at least allows you to lay down a route and keep people to it.

I've seen whole housing developments re-thougth because of this sort of thing; if you don't have to fight this, do you really want to?

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

sally_in_wales wrote:

Footpath disputes always seem to get messy, I recall one footpath sign near my parents that had the official 'Public Footpath' bit then in very small letters added by the farmer 'if you can climb under the barbed wire fence...' Never pleasant, and in my opinion worth working with the locals if at all possible.


I've certainly cut wires where someone had intentionally blocked off a footpath (mini toolkits are so useful, you know). As you say, these disputes can be really messy.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44226
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:
if you don't have to fight this, do you really want to?


Nope, but as far as I can tell very few people are actually doing this, most just seem to wander around the fields that the footpth runs through. Should I preemptively take steps to turn this into a permissive footpath?

Quote:
Other paths, known as permissive routes, are open to the public because the owner has given permission for them to be used: often there is a notice on the path making clear the owner has no intention of dedicating the path as a right of way, and reserving the right to withdraw the permission. These paths are sometimes closed for one day a year, with a view to preventing claims that they are rights of way.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

tahir wrote:

Nope, but as far as I can tell very few people are actually doing this, most just seem to wander around the fields that the footpth runs through. Should I preemptively take steps to turn this into a permissive footpath?


I'd be tempted to do that. Keeping the locals onside when you're new in the area by giving them a new footpath might be sensible. Depends. 'Course it also means another corridor full of dog poo.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44226
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:
I've certainly cut wires where someone had intentionally blocked off a footpath (mini toolkits are so useful, you know). As you say, these disputes can be really messy.


That's the thing, there are militants on both sides, the farmer who's been doing the bits and pieces that I've needed has an attitude of "they're vermin and should be treated as such" so have most people involved in farming that I've spoken to.

I want a peaceful and sensible way of dealing with this, but basically one that keeps dogs from crapping all over the place and people from littering, rabbitting or shooting air rifles (or worse) on my land (the danger signs off the electric pylons have been shot off by pellet attack).

Silas



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 6848
Location: Staffordshire
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cab wrote:
sally_in_wales wrote:

Footpath disputes always seem to get messy, I recall one footpath sign near my parents that had the official 'Public Footpath' bit then in very small letters added by the farmer 'if you can climb under the barbed wire fence...' Never pleasant, and in my opinion worth working with the locals if at all possible.


I've certainly cut wires where someone had intentionally blocked off a footpath (mini toolkits are so useful, you know). As you say, these disputes can be really messy.


You need to be a bit careful here. Firstly, you MUST make sure that you have a definitive footpath map, some OS are out of date. Second, ask yourself why it is blocked, if there is a crop and an alternative route has been offered, it is just bloody- mindedness not to take it. Thirdly, even if the footpath is blocked, it is not wise to damage the object that is blocking the path, even if it is just cutting through wires, you may be leaving yourself open to a charge of criminal damage ( and if you are wrong and the footpath map is out of date, criminal damage and trespass.)

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Silas wrote:

You need to be a bit careful here. Firstly, you MUST make sure that you have a definitive footpath map, some OS are out of date.


Yup, did that.

Quote:
Second, ask yourself why it is blocked, if there is a crop and an alternative route has been offered, it is just bloody- mindedness not to take it.


Because that particular farmer was a git, there was a crop right there but only because he had ploughed the footpath, and there wasn't an alternative route that added less than a mile to the journey.

Quote:
Thirdly, even if the footpath is blocked, it is not wise to damage the object that is blocking the path, even if it is just cutting through wires, you may be leaving yourself open to a charge of criminal damage ( and if you are wrong and the footpath map is out of date, criminal damage and trespass.)


Indeed, that's a risk. And I certainly don't advocate wandering around with wire cutters and cutting any dodgy bit of fence wire you see. But there comes a point when its either take legal action or just cut the damn wires.

I'm not putting this forward as a boast or as any kind of suggestion that doing that is always a good thing, merely pointing out that sometimes it'll happen.

mochyn



Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 24569
Location: mid-Wales
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We have public footpaths and bridle paths crossing our land and joining up in several directions. So far, they've been no problem, but we did once have to calmly point out to a couple of lads on dirt bikes that they didn't have hooves! They were fine, especially when they realized they wouldn't be able to get over the stile...

A nice chap came round a while ago from the footpath people (council or whoever) and said that they'd replace the gates on our footpaths, and if we were happy to do the work they'd give us the kits and pay for our labour! Still waiting though...

Our biggest problem is that one of the paths is the one that leads up to the pigs' field and you've never seen so much mud!

Andy B



Joined: 12 Jan 2005
Posts: 3920
Location: Brum
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Local councilers can be a law unto themselves and a pain in the arse, try not to get on the wrong side of them. Or do what a relative of ours did and get on the council.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44226
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Andy B wrote:
Local councilers can be a law unto themselves and a pain in the arse, try not to get on the wrong side of them. Or do what a relative of ours did and get on the council.


I might invite him round for a cuppa and see what we can see.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 34894
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

a path of mutual acceptability might be best .
a chat over a cuppa is better than years of trouble legal or not

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44226
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

dpack wrote:
a path of mutual acceptability might be best


Definitely what I'll try for

alison
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12908
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 06 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Mochyn

We had the footpath gates and styles here. They didn't pay us, but the EU pay for half of the costs, so the council give all the gate, and you provide the labour fitting it.

Worked for us.

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