As a community we are fortunate to have an extensive network of public footpaths in the village which are protected by law. For a number of years Breckland District Council has paid for many of these paths to be cut on a regular basis thus making them readily available for all of us to use. However, as part of the local government cutbacks Breckland is no longer able to finance the cutting of these footpaths and is instead insisting that the landowners fulfil their legal obligations by ensuring that these paths are accessible at all times. The withdrawal of regular cutting by Breckland has meant that many paths in each village have become overgrown and difficult to walk this year.
Norfolk County Council has given responsibility for footpath maintenance to its Highways Department who will deal directly with the landowner to ensure he is fulfilling his legal obligations. However the parish councils in North and South Lopham would like to be made aware of any footpath problems so that they can monitor the situation in each village. Please contact the Parish Clerk, add a comment to this post or tweet @SouthLopham using hashtag #PRoW to report any issues.
Outlined below is where legal responsibility resides in each case.
- Make sure hedgerows don’t obstruct the pathway
- Don’t cultivate field-edge paths and all byways and restricted byways
- Prevent obstructions and other public deterrents, e.g. bulls in fields
- Reinstate any footpaths or bridleways which have to be disturbed for agriculture
- Obtain County Council consent for any gates or stiles on a Public Right of Way (PRoW)
- Remove barbed wire or electric fences blocking a PRoW
- Maintain stiles, gates, footbridges or other similar structures on PRoW
- Remove unauthorised signs or notices containing false or misleading information
- Contact the County Council before commencing any works that might adversely affect a PRoW
- Keep cross-field paths clear of vegetation
- Protect the public’s right to use PRoW
- Maintain and encourage others to maintain, PRoW to a ‘reasonable standard of safety’
- Signpost PRoW where appropriate
- Authorise works by land owners and managers, e.g. gates and stiles
- Maintain the legal record of PRoW on the Definitive Map and Statement
- Enforce the relevant legislation in the Highways Act 1980 and Rights of Way Act 1990