Agenda and minutes

Countryside and Rights of Way Panel
Friday, 9th February, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Jonathan Lindop  Email: jonathan.lindop@staffordshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

20.

Minutes of meeting held on 5 December 2017 pdf icon PDF 219 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 December 2017 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

 

21.

Proposed Diversion of Public Footpath No. 8 (Part) Cheadle Town pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Report of Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities regarding the proposed diversion of Public Footpath No. 8 (Part) Cheadle Parish under Section 119 of the Highways Act 1980. The proposed Order was being promoted by the land owner in order to improve the privacy and security of their property.

 

Public Footpath No. 8 ran through the grounds of Little Eaves Farm at its western end before crossing farmland to link with Public Footpath No. 9 Cheadle Parish. The Farm was used as a car repair garage and the owners had also previously raised concerns about the safety of path users owing to regular vehicular movements to and from the site. The effect of the Order was to divert the path from its existing route marked A-B on the plan to a line north of the Definitive route and marked B-C on the plan attached to the report.

 

Members noted that the proposals had been subject to informal consultation and advertisement on site and no objections had been received. However the Ramblers Association, Peak and North Footpath Society and Open Spaces Society had requested a path width of two meters and no stiles or gates along the diverted route all of which the landowner had agreed to.

 

The cost of making the Order was to be met in full by the applicant.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.

 

(b) That the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities by authorised to make an Order under Section to divert part of Public Footpath No. 8 Cheadle Town, as set out in the report.

 

(c) That the provisions be included in the Order such that it is also made under Section 53A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to amend the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way in consequence of the coming into operation of the diversion of Public Footpath No. 8 Cheadle Town.

 

22.

Proposed Diversion of Public Footpath No. 18 (Part) Cheadle Town pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Report of Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities regarding the proposed diversion of Public Footpath No. 18 (Part) Cheadle Town under Section 119 of the Highways Act 1980. The proposed Order was being promoted by the owner of the land crossed by the path owing to the definitive line being partly obstructed by an industrial compound.

 

Footpath No. 18 ran between Draycott Cross Road and Commonside in Cheadle. It provided an important link between Cheadle and the wider countryside. However, walkers had been using an alternative route through a Christmas tree plantation to the north of the Definitive line. This route was more scenic for path users and provided better surface conditions away from the industrial estate.

 

Members noted that the proposals had been subject to informal consultation and advertisement on site and no objections had been received. The Ramblers Association, Peak and Northern Footpaths Society and Open spaces Society had all expressed their support for the proposals.

 

The cost of making and advertising the Order was to be met in full by the applicant.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.

 

(b) That the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities be authorised to make an Order under Section 119 of the Highways Act 1980 to divert part of Public Footpath No. 18 Cheadle Town.

 

(c) That provisions be included in the Order such that it is also made under Section 53A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to amend the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way in consequence of the coming into operation of the diversion of part of Public Footpath No. 18 Cheadle Town.                    

 

23.

Proposed Extinguishment of Public Footpath No. 84 Gnosall Parish pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Report of Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities regarding the proposed extinguishment of Public Footpath No. 84 Gnosall Parish, under Section 118 of the Highways Act 1980.

 

Public Footpath No. 84 Gnosall Parish was recorded on the draft Definitive Map and Statement in 1954 and the route had been recorded on all reviews of the Map since. Originally the route crossed open pasture between Willey Lane and Back Lane near the centre of the village. However, at some point during the 1960s (the exact date was not known), Stafford Borough Council granted planning permission for houses to be built on an open field between Willey Lane and Back Lane without taking account of the Public Footpath.

 

The error came to light when a resident of Glendower Close, Gnosall attempted to sell their house. The prospective purchasers’ detailed land searches revealed the existence of the Right of Way over the property causing the sale to fall through.

 

Provision was included within the Highways Act to extinguish Public Rights of Way if it was clear they were no longer needed for public use. In this instance it was not possible to divert the path to an alternative route owing to its location within a built-up area. Also, the link between Back Lane and Willey Lane was available via pavements along the minor highway network.

 

Members noted that the proposals had been subject to informal consultation and advertisement on site and no objections had been received from either the Ramblers’ Association or Open Spaces Society. However, two Members of the public and Gnosall Parish Council had expressed concerns that a well-established link between Willey Lane and Glendower Close would be lost upon extinguishment of the path and had requested that this section remained open.

 

The above-mentioned link was a three metre long snicket which was not part of the definitive line of the path, had no legal status as a Public Right of Way and therefore was not part of the proposals. However, the County Council had agreed to adopt this short section of path as a publically maintainable highway through the road adoptions process which would resolve the concerns expressed.

 

The cost of making the Order was to be met in full by Stafford Borough Council.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.

 

(b) That the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities be authorised to make an Order under Section 118 of the Highways Act 1980 to extinguish Public Footpath No. 84 Gnosall Parish.


 

 

(c) That provision be included in the Order such that it is also made under Section 53A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to amend the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way in consequence of the coming into operation of the extinguishment of Public Footpath No. 84 Gnosall Parish.                                             

                      

24.

Rights of Way Review - Update

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities

Minutes:

The Panel received an oral report from the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities updating them on progress with regard to the County Council’s Rights of Way Review focussing on the following work streams:-

 

·         An appropriate route hierarchy and system for prioritising path enquiries;

·         Roles and responsibilities of Staff;

·         The suitability of supporting systems;

·         The role of users and stakeholder groups;

·         An enforcement protocol;

·         Income fees and charges.

 

The Stakeholder consultation launched on 16 September 2017 had closed on 25 December 2017. Of the 320 responses received approximately 22% had agreed with the proposed route hierarchy. However, of the 8,000 routes which had received classification, 2,000 had been challenged by responders resulting in 97 being re-classified (77 being upgraded and 20 downgraded).

 

A draft Rights of Way Service Charter had been prepared in order to help manage the public’s expectations having regard to the savings targets identified in the Authority’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (£290,000 by 2020/21). The Charter set out what path users could expect in terms of rights of way maintenance and made reference to a new inspection regime. In addition, a Volunteer Surveyor Handbook had also been prepared which would assist the Council in achieving the targets set out in the Charter.

 

Although a non-statutory function, the draft Charter also set out a priority regime for Public Path Orders under the Highways Act 1980. Orders which were required to address health and safety issues would be given a high priority whereas those being promoted by members of the public for their own benefit would be given a lower priority.

 

A new charging structure for Public Path Orders was also set out in the document with the intention that fees and charges would better reflect the costs involved in delivering the service. 

 

With regard to Role and Responsibilities, the review had identified (i) poor processes and practices and; (ii) areas of duplication which were being addressed in order to make the service more efficient. This necessitated a revised staffing structure for which approval was currently being sought. However, it was hoped that this would be in place by September 2018.

 

Significant investment had been made in a new computerised management system for use by the Rights of Way function. All staff and volunteers would have access as necessary enabling processes to be automated and savings made. This system would also improve the performance management of staff.


 

 

During the discussion which ensued, the Panel cautioned against proposals in the Review to offer rights of way training to other Authorities at this time. They said that the current priority should be on improving the Staffordshire Rights of Way offer and that consideration could be given to generating income from other sources once this had been achieved.              

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.

 

(b) That the Panel be kept updated on progress with regard to the Rights of Way Review.

 

25.

HS2 Rail Link pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Update by the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Place (attached)

Minutes:

The Panel received a briefing note from the Director of Economy Infrastructure and Skills updating them on recent development with regard to HS” – the proposed high speed rail link between London and the north.

 

RESOLVED – That the briefing note be received and noted. 

 

26.

Date of Next Meeting - Friday 6 April 2018 at 10.00 am

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the date of their next meeting be noted.