Report of Director of Corporate Services
The Panel considered a report of the Director of Corporate Services regarding an application by Mr. and Mrs. Dixon for a Modification Order under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to realign Public Footpath No. 34 Swynnerton Parish on the County Council’s Definitive Map and Statement.
The report was presented verbally to take Members through the various legal, documentary and historical evidence relevant to the application. The Director also made reference to case law which dealt with the weight to be given to that evidence and gave guidance on the legal tests which they should apply. In applying these tests, Members were made aware that they should examine the evidence in its totality.
During their consideration of the application, Members had regard to the appendices attached to the report including:- (i) a copy of the application; (ii) a copy of the County Council’s current Definitive Map showing Public Footpath No. 34 Swynnerton Parish; (iii) a copy of an enlarged plan showing alignments of the current route and claimed correct line; (iv) a copy of a Submission by the Applicant’s Agent; (v) a copy of the 1880 Ordnance Survey Map; (vi) a copy of the 1901 Ordnance Survey Map; (vii) a copy of the 1924 Ordnance Survey Map; (viii) a copy of the 1959 Ordnance Survey Map; (ix) a copy of the 1963 Ordnance Survey Map; (x) copies of Tithe Maps and Awards; (xi) a copy of the Definitive Statement; (xii) copies of the Parish Survey Record; (xiii) a copy of the Parish Survey Map extract; (xiv) an aerial photograph of the area; (xv) a copy of Circular Walk, Yarnfield; (xvi) a scanned copy of Parish Survey Record Cards and accompanying Parish Survey Maps extract; (xvii) copies of the first Definitive Map of 1954 and Definitive Map of 1969; (xviii) a copy of Mr. Beeston’s comments and attachment dated 3 October 2018; (xix) a copy of Mr. Dixon’s response and attachments dated 12 October 2018; (xx) a copy of Mr. Beeston’s response; (xxi) a copy of Swynnerton Parish Council’s response dated 5 October 2018; (xii) a copy of a Staffordshire County Council map indicating points A, B, C along the Definitive route of Public Footpath No. 34 Swynnerton Parish.
In presenting the report the Director referred to the Panel’s site inspection of the alleged correct and definitive lines of the path which they had undertaken prior to the commencement of the meeting. The purpose of the inspection had been to gain a better understanding of the physical features in the area.
Following detailed consideration of the application, the Panel decided that from the available evidence which was finely balanced, the civil test of ‘Balance of Probabilities’ ie that it was more likely than not the Definitive Map and Statement was wrong, had not been met and in consequence the existing depiction of the route currently shown on the Definitive Map should remain.
RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.
(b) That the evidence submitted by the applicant and that discovered by the County Council is insufficient to show that an error on the Definitive Map and Statement for the District of Stafford exists.
(c) That an Order NOT be made to amend the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way for the District of Stafford to realign the route of Public Footpath No. 34 Swynnerton Parish to the line shown in the application.