Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Wiltshire County Council

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1 Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Wiltshire County Council

2 Foreword I am pleased to present this Rights of Way Improvement Plan. It is a strategic document which outlines the aspirations of the council in managing and developing countryside access within Wiltshire. This access is mainly provided through the network of more than 6,000 kilometres of public rights of way, but also through the management of areas of Access Land and through permissive access agreements. The plan follows extensive consultation with the people of Wiltshire and visitors to our county. It reflects what people have told us they think is important. The aim is to ensure that countryside access meets the needs of residents, landowners and visitors. The public rights of way network has evolved over many years to meet changing requirements. The production of a Rights of Way Improvement Plan is the council s main tool, to ensure that the network continues to match those demands. This plan does not try to set out the improvements we intend to make on individual paths or parcels of Access Land, nor within specific local areas. Its role is to provide the framework for the development of annual work programmes which will bring localised improvements as opportunities permit. It was clear from the responses you gave us that you see the network of public rights of way as being important for recreational access as well as for reaching schools, shops and work. Those views are reflected in this plan. The document also takes into account the priorities we identified in the Wiltshire Local Transport Plan (LTP) 2006/7 2010/11. Because of this, some of the improvements have already been implemented. An update on the progress made since the publication of the Draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan in December 2007 is now available. This plan contains 46 individual strategic actions that could be taken to improve countryside access in Wiltshire. These are based on the information you gave us and the improvements you said you wanted to see. We look on these improvements as goals to strive for in our management of the public rights of way network. We will use them to guide us in developing the network and in our work with landowners in providing access to the countryside by right and also additional permissive access. Many localised improvements could be generated by implementing the strategic actions. The result would be easier access to the countryside, more in tune with the needs of users and landowners. The production of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan has been a requirement of government legislation the Countryside and Rights of Way Act However, it is an obligation that Wiltshire County Council has wholeheartedly supported. Miss Fleur de Rhe-Philipe Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Economic Development

3 Contents Page 1. Introduction 1 2. Public Rights Of Way and Countryside Access Overview 3 Salisbury Plain 11 Use of Public Rights Of Way 11 Permissive Access Agreements 14 National Trails and Long Distance Routes Maintenance and Management 16 Rights of Way Maintenance and Enforcement (Operations Team) 17 Definitive Map Team 18 Administration of the Wiltshire and Swindon Countryside Access Forum 19 Access to Open Countryside and Registered Common Land 19 Countryside Access Development Community Context 21 Tourism in Wiltshire 22 A Sustainable Strategy for Wiltshire 22 Local Transport Plan 22 Local Initiatives The Rights Of Way Improvement Plan Development Process Rights Of Way Improvement Plan Summary Action Plan Rights of Way Team Policies 49 The Policies 49 The Procedures Glossary Associated Documents 60

4 1. Introduction 1.1 The Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP) has been prepared and published by Wiltshire County Council with the assistance of the Wiltshire and Swindon Countryside Access Forum (W&SCAF) and the New Forest Access Forum (NFAF). The publication is a requirement of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act This document builds upon and replaces the Framework for Managing the Rights of Way Network in Wiltshire and sets out the policies and practices of the rights of way section. 1.2 The Rights of Way Improvement Plan could not have been produced without the help of the people who live and work in Wiltshire and who enjoy the countryside. Many of them have told the council about their experiences using the existing public rights of way (PRoW) and about how they access the countryside. They have also told us how they think things can be improved. The views were obtained during a wide ranging consultation process. This included: Parish, Town, District and Neighbouring Councils Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) The New Forest National Park Authority User Groups Landowners and managers Individual users Other stakeholders 1.3 The Rights of Way Improvement Plan benefits from co-ordination with the bodies administering the New Forest National Park, the three AONBs and the World Heritage Sites, as well as with landowners and neighbouring authorities. This partnership approach ensures that work is agreed and projects developed which meet the needs of all the involved parties. This applies at both strategic and practical levels. In addition, the cooperation allows schemes for improved access to be identified and planned. 1.4 This Improvement Plan analyses the existing network of public rights of way and Access Land which was set up under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act It also deals with other forms of statutory and non-statutory countryside access in Wiltshire. The results from a wide-ranging consultation process influence how access to the countryside is managed and improved. The aim is to meet the current and future needs of users and landowners/managers. 1.5 Swindon is part of the historical county of Wiltshire. However, the Unitary Authority of Swindon Borough Council has responsibility for its own public rights of way network. It has therefore published its own Rights of Way Improvement Plan, with the assistance of the Wiltshire and Swindon Countryside Access Forum. For copies of Swindon s Rights of Way Action Plan please contact: The Rights of Way Manager, Swindon Borough Council, Premier House, Station Road, Swindon SN1 1TZ 1.6 Consultation between the two councils ensures that the Improvement Plans are complementary, and that any cross-border issues are identified and addressed. There is also similar cooperation with all neighbouring highway authorities. 1.7 The maintenance and recording of the existing public rights of way network is a statutory duty. It therefore has the highest priority in terms of funding, staffing and management time. The way in which the available resources are deployed to match these statutory requirements is under constant review. The Rights of Way Improvement Plan provides for further analysis (see 8 Rights of Way Policies). 1.8 The existing network of public rights of way largely reflects historic land use. It is important to recognise that this has led to differences between what exists and what people want to use. There are many places throughout the county where the network no longer meets the needs of users. Changes in recreation patterns and the growth of some communities are just two of the reasons why the existing network is different from what would be ideal. There is, therefore, scope 1

5 for a range of improvements designed to improve access to the Wiltshire countryside and heritage sites, as well as local services and public transport. 1.9 The Rights of Way Improvement Plan allows us to demonstrate how we expect to resource the statutory duties. It also enables us to show how we hope to achieve the improvements which stakeholders have identified as desirable during consultation exercises. (The proposed improvements in the management of the network are set out in detail in 7. Action Plan) The agreed measure of the successful maintenance of public rights of way is by Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPI 178) samples. The indicator calculates the proportion of the total length of rights of way which are judged to be easy to use. In order to be easy to use rights of way must be: signposted or way marked where they leave the road and to allow users to follow the path free from unlawful obstructions and other interference with the public s right of passage (this includes overhanging vegetation) Lawful barriers,(such as stiles and gates) and the ground surface to be in good repair. They should be of a standard necessary to enable the public to use the way without undue inconvenience. The measurements are taken by surveying a random 5% of the overall length of the network, using nationally agreed standard methodology which has been approved by the Audit Commission Wiltshire County Council s Local Transport Plan sets a target of achieving a BVPI 178 target of 80% by the year 2010/11. The improvements detailed in the Action Plan will be a major part of the efforts to reach that figure. The target of 80% has been assessed as being towards the more stretching end of a range of shire counties in terms of absolute level. The national average for BVPI 178 in 2006/7 was 69%. Wiltshire s equivalent figure was slightly better at 69.5%. This must be considered in context: The overall length of the network is 6,162 km. The rights of way team had just 16 members at that time and their operational budget that year was 2 202,000. This figure excludes staffing costs, although this was supported by the use of recycled road planings to repair the surface of damaged Byways Open to All Traffic and work carried out by volunteers Since the publication of the Draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan, BVPI 178 is no longer used as the national indicator for judging success in maintaining the network. However, Wiltshire County Council intends that the data gathering and analysis methodology underpinning BVPI 178 should remain as its indicator of success in this area of activity until a new national standard is agreed and implemented No funding (from Central Government or Wiltshire County Council) has been specifically identified for implementing the improvements detailed in 7. Action Plan. This represents a risk to the success of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan. However, a number of the initiatives need no extra funding and can be achieved through the redeployment of existing resources. Also it may be possible to fund some actions from within the Local Transport Plan. Grants and material help may also come from outside bodies. Nevertheless, a significant number of actions will require extra resources and income before they can be implemented Because the proposed improvements are discretionary for the highways authority, initiatives which will attract external funding or which can be delivered using existing resources are of increased importance. Many of the issues in the Rights of Way Improvement Plan are classed as important to users and managers of access routes in Wiltshire. The resource allocation to address these issues remains unclear. This is especially true if the statutory duties undertaken by the rights of way section are to remain of the highest priority Central Government advice clearly states that Rights of Way Improvement Plans should be essentially aspirational. It is suggested they should seek to achieve strategic improvements through a combination of initiatives some innovative and some well tried. The plan will be delivered through a variety of major projects and a collection of smaller initiatives. Most of these will be achieved by working in partnership with stakeholders.

6 2. Public Rights Of Way and Countryside Access Overview 2.1 Most of Wiltshire is rural in nature, with communities centred on 19 market towns and the city of Salisbury. At the moment there are 254 parishes and four district councils. The county council and the four districts are to be replaced by a unitary authority from May The government gave the goahead for this change in July ,973 people live in Wiltshire. Each year almost one and a quarter million visitors come to the county (South West Facts 2003, P.1 UK Tourism Survey / International Passenger Survey). More than three quarters of these visitors enjoy walking (Wiltshire Tourism), and in 2002 tourism brought 204m into the Wiltshire economy (South West Tourism). Local businesses also benefit from the presence of other users of rights of way, such as cyclists, equestrians and trail bike riders (actual figures are not available). Tourism has a positive impact on the economy, but increased access to the countryside causes erosion and wear on public rights of way network. It creates opportunities to improve facilities for visitors, which in turn can increase the potential tourism income. It is hoped to increase opportunities for both tourists and local businesses by working with tourism organisations on strategies such as Destination Tourism Partnership. We also plan to capitalise on the growing interest in health and sport, generated by the prospect of the 2012 Olympics. Some of these opportunities are detailed in the Action Plan. 2.2 Wiltshire is very important in terms of biodiversity. 10 Special Areas of Conservation and 2 Special Protection Areas (in full or in part). These are areas of international designation 136 Sites of Special Scientific Interest A wide range of National and Local Nature Reserves Sites of Nature Conservation Interest Areas of High Ecological Value. 43% of the county is included in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are three such areas in Wiltshire: The Cotswolds AONB The North Wessex Downs AONB The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB. The Avebury landscape from West Woods Picture by P. Broadstock 3

7 2.3 Wiltshire has a wealth of natural beauty and historic sites, dominated by the World Heritage Sites at Avebury and Stonehenge. The New Forest National Park extends into the south-eastern corner of Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain dominates the eastern central part of the county. There are more than 2000 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, together with English Heritage sites and National Trust properties. In the north and east of the county walkers can enjoy the Thames Path and the Ridgeway National Trail. All of these facilities allow visitors to enjoy a diverse range of landscapes: the chalk Downlands in the north-east and the south, Salisbury Plain in the centre, and wooded farmland to the west and the north. 2.4 Visitors come to Wiltshire from many parts of the UK and also from abroad, attracted by this wealth of scenery and historic sites. The landscape is dotted with market towns and small villages, and the county s rights of way network provides important links between the communities and out into the countryside. Local residents use the paths and tracks for recreation such as dog walking or for exercise, as well as to get to work, school or local services. 2.5 The council is responsible for managing rights of way and countryside access in Wiltshire. The authority protects the rights of the public by ensuring, as far as possible, that the network is clear of obstruction and available for use at all times. The council also has a duty to ensure that the legal record of rights of way, the Definitive Map and Statement, is kept up to date and under constant review. (See 3, Maintenance and Management for further details) 2.6 The maps on the following pages show the public rights of way and Access Land in Wiltshire. For ease of use the maps are divided into footpaths, bridleways and byways. Because of the density of footpaths, maps have been split into the management areas of Wiltshire. These coincide with the District Council boundaries. The maps are for illustrative purposes only. 2.7 It is important to note that in Wiltshire the percentage of Byways Open to All Traffic (13%) and bridleways (25%) is higher than the national average. This gives greater opportunities to improve access to a wide range of groups. These include people with mobility problems who should be able to drive motorised vehicles on the 819km of Byways Open to All Traffic. 2.8 The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 states that people have the right to roam responsibly on foot over open wild uncultivated mountain, moor, heath and down in England and Wales, subject to certain restrictions. In Wiltshire there are 260 square kilometres of this type of Access Land, most with public rights of way linking them to the highway or to local communities. 2.9 There are two areas of Access Land in Wiltshire which also lie within the National Park: Whiteparish Common and Landford Common. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 designates that the National Park Authority is statutory access authority for these areas. The network is made up of:- Classification Length (km) % length of network Number Public Footpaths Public Bridleways Byways Open to All Traffic Restricted Byways Total

8 Public Footpaths in Kennet Public Footpaths in Salisbury District 5

9 Public Footpaths in West Wiltshire 6

10 Public Footpaths in North Wiltshire 7

11 Public Bridleways in Wiltshire 8

12 Byways Open to All Traffic and Restricted Byways Key Byways Open To All Traffic Restricted Byways 9

13 Access Lands and Registered Commmons in Wiltshire Key Registered Commons Registered Commons Access Land 10

14 2.10 Salisbury Plain Approximately three quarters of the 260 square kilometres of Access Land in Wiltshire lie within the Salisbury Plain Training Area. This means access is restricted for military and safety reasons. Despite having operational reasons for restricting access, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has allowed members of the public to use rights of way and Access Land in some areas. The ministry continues to work with the council, local communities and user groups to review these arrangements. The military need to introduce restrictions because their training operations can conflict with the access needs of local communities and groups. The rights of way teams will continue to work with both sides to ease conflicts, with the aim of allowing access when that is reasonable Derek Twigg (Under Secretary of State for Defence) supports such public access. He said We maintain a presumption in favour of access unless there are operational or training requirements, or safety or security limits. The rights of way teams believe this attitude allows continuing discussion about existing and potential access to the Salisbury Plain Training Area. Byway across Salisbury Plain Picture by Sally Madgwick 2.11 Use of Public Rights of Way The way in which different groups of people gain access to the countryside can be most easily examined by looking at how they use the rights of way network. There are many active groups using Wiltshire s paths and tracks, such as: Ramblers groups Cyclists clubs Horse riding societies Carriage drivers Users of motorised vehicles, such as Trail Riders However, consultation exercises have shown that most users of rights of way are not members of any club, association or society. Tollard Royal footpath No.5. Picture by Nick Cowen 11

15 The views of groups and individuals are included in the following analysis Walkers Walking is the most popular activity identified from group consultation. More importantly, it is also the most popular pursuit according to individual responses. Significantly, other groups of rights of way users, such as cyclists and riders also walked weekly or monthly on the rights of way network. These routes are seen as a vital resource for many people in Wiltshire, whether for daily dog walking or for weekly exercise or recreation. Responses make it clear that most users walk on the rights of way for health or recreation purposes. A very small proportion of people regularly use the network to get to work or to access local services. Difficulty with stiles, poor surface conditions and lack of signs and information were major concerns for walking groups, while individuals quote busy life styles and not wanting to walk alone as reasons for not visiting the countryside. Walkers can use all public rights of way. However there was an indication that the network has not kept pace with developments or demand, as walkers said some routes did not go to where they wanted to get to. Most respondents used a private vehicle to access the countryside, or went from home on foot if the distance was short Equestrians This group includes both horse riders and carriage drivers. Increasing popularity of horse riding in Wiltshire means the demands of this activity and its impact on the rights of way network will increase. Surface conditions and routes not going where they wanted to were major concerns expressed by this group of users. In some areas of the county there is very limited and fragmented bridleway and byway provision. This makes it difficult for riders and carriage drivers to avoid busy roads. Carriage drivers were especially concerned about the lack of adequate parking facilities and off road provision. The vulnerability of equestrians (along with cyclists) was a particular worry, not only while using roads to access the countryside but also when crossing busy highways. Horse riders have the rights of access to bridleways, restricted byways and Byways Open to All Traffic. Carriage drivers cannot use bridleways, but have the rights of access to restricted byways and Byways Open to All Traffic Cyclists Cycling is a popular sustainable activity for people of every age. It is especially good for commuting and for long distance touring. Information about where to cycle and a lack of signing were a main concern. Cyclists also commented that rights of way did not follow their desired route. Like equestrian users, cyclists also find there is a very limited and fragmented network of bridleways and byways in some parts of the county. This makes it hard for them to avoid busy roads. A lack of connection between the rights of way network and cycle lanes in towns is also an issue. There was a particular concern about vulnerability when using busy roads to access the countryside, and about the dangers encountered when crossing roads. Cyclists say surface conditions deter them from using some routes, with busy roads the only alternative. Cyclists do not have the same rights as horse riders on bridleways. They have to give way to pedestrians and horse riders. However, there are cycle routes which are not accessible to horses. Cyclists have rights of access to bridleways, restricted byways and Byways Open to All Traffic. They also can use specifically designed cycle tracks Motorised vehicle users This group includes users of 2 and 4 wheel vehicles. The rights of way teams welcome this group s responsible use of Byways Open to All Traffic. These public rights of way form part of the highway network and vehicles have to be road legal and insured, with users complying with highway law. This group of users expressed concerns about the loss of recreational routes accessible by them and the use of Traffic Regulation Orders. Another concern was the conflict in the use of Byways Open to All Traffic with other groups of users. These other groups were also concerned about the presence of motorised vehicles on this type of right of way. 12

16 Users of motorised vehicles have the right of access only on Byways Open to All Traffic. These form 13% of the 6162 km of Wiltshire s public rights of way People with mobility problems This is a diverse group. Every person has different abilities. The group includes people needing aids to mobility, the aged, the temporarily infirm and parents with buggies. The public rights of way offer differing experiences for each individual in this category. However, actions can be taken to improve access for the majority; for example, where practicable gates and gaps can replace stiles. Also access information can be provided on specific parts of the network, tailored to the needs of different users. Reponses from this group of users are detailed and encompass a wide range of issues. This is not surprising considering the differing needs of each individual. Difficulty with stiles and surface conditions were common concerns. A lack of signs and information and limited safety features were also often mentioned. This group of users are more likely to use public transport to access rights of way than any other, and the difficulty of getting to the routes was said to be a problem. Some respondents in this group were reluctant to go out on their own. These last two issues are partially addressed by activities such as Salisbury Walking for Health Group s Bus Walk programme. In theory, the entire network is available for access. In practice this is not the case. Wheelchairs, motorised scooters and buggies used by people with mobility impairments are permitted on all public rights of way. However, structures such as stiles are a major barrier. It is not possible at the time of publication to analyse the network with regard to accessibility for all. However, with the application of the rights of way database this will be possible (see Action Plan 9 in Managing the Network). Other actions are possible in the shorter term (see Action Plans in Ease of Access section). Byways Open to All Traffic have an important part to play in allowing the infirm and those with mobility problems to access the countryside. They allow cars to be used to reach areas which would otherwise be inaccessible Infrequent and non-users The needs and experiences of this group are difficult to identify. Research carried out for the Countryside Agency in 2002 showed that just over half the households in the UK had at least one member who used local rights of way. This leaves a large number of people who never use the network to access the countryside. There is an increasing interest in walking and cycling as a means of achieving a healthy lifestyle. The health agenda has a high public profile (see Walking for All initiative 6.3). The public rights of way network is a major facility for walking and cycling and the health benefits that derive from such activities. The few responses to consultation from infrequent and non users make it evident that lack of information on countryside access is an issue. There are also concerns about going out on their own and worries about getting lost. The responses received provide a clear basis for further work, especially with other groups involved in the health agenda Access to the Countryside An inability to access the rights of way network is an important issue. A large number of people cannot access the countryside, possibly due to a disability, or maybe inadequate transportation. Lack of familiarity with a route can be a difficulty, and stiles, gates or obstructions such as ploughed fields can stop access. Consultation feedback suggests there is a lack of knowledge about countryside access Wiltshire County Council s statement on equality and diversity states: The council is firmly committed to the principles of equality and diversity in both employment and the delivery of services and is keen to celebrate the diversity of people who live and work in Wiltshire. This means making services accessible to all and treating people fairly regardless of their colour, race, ethnic or national origin, language, religion or belief, gender or gender reassignment, marital status, sexuality, disability, age or any illness or infection The application of this statement means that the maintenance of the public 13

17 rights of way and areas of Access Land must have regard to the following points: Identification of users with access difficulties and plan for them in the maintenance of routes where applicable Provision of information to parishes, users, volunteer groups and landowners about creating inclusive access to the outdoors for disabled people Continuation of the scheme to replace stiles with gates or gaps, with landowner agreement Build upon and support the existing access for all schemes, such as the King Alfred s Trail in Pewsey and the National Trust s Sensory Trail at Stourhead. The Action Plan contains details of specific improvements aimed at creating inclusive access to the outdoors for disabled people, as well as providing for inclusive access in more general improvements. Community groups and other organisations run similar schemes. For example, the New Forest National Park Authority is funding the purchase of gates or kissing gates where they replace stiles on publicly accessible paths The public rights of way network is varied and presents a wide variety of challenges when prioritising maintenance. The standard approach is to organise the network in a hierarchy. Though this approach targets resources, it also leaves many routes with minimal maintenance. The scheme is also subject to differing interpretations as to what is important and to whom. Some rights of way merit the highest level of attention by the Operations Team. These are the National Trails and the long distance routes. That being said, the Operations Team organise their time and resources on a parish by parish basis through regular inspection and prioritisation of maintenance (see 3.2 Rights of Way Maintenance and Enforcement). In addition, the team responds to faults reported to the council, assessing several factors including Health and Safety. If a fault creates a danger for people using a route and there is no reasonably convenient alternative right of way available, then the work is carried out as a matter of urgency Permissive Access Agreements The public has a right to enter areas of Access Land, registered commons and to use the rights of way network. In addition landowners and managers can give permission for the public to cross their land. This can be through agri-environmental access schemes, woodland grant schemes or by private access agreements. Examples of this sort of access can be seen on National Trust properties, some farmland and on a few large estates. The rights of way team will continue to be aware of the importance of these permissive routes in contributing to countryside access. They will work to ensure that these permissive access agreements are preserved and enhanced. The access strategy of the North Wessex Downs AONB aims to identify opportunities for establishing new access routes and rights of way or improving and upgrading existing public rights of way through arable landscapes to better connect and expand the network of existing walking and riding routes. The rights of way teams support this approach throughout the county of Wiltshire National Trails and Long Distance Routes Many long distance routes cross Wiltshire. Some, such as the Thames Path, are of national importance. Some, like The Ridgeway, are of historic value, while others, such as the newly created Mid Wilts Way, have regional significance. All are publicised and maintained as recreational routes, though only The Ridgeway and the Thames Path are officially designated National Trails, attracting external funding and management assistance from Natural England. These long distance routes have been developed independently of the council by other organisations, societies and individuals. However, the council continues to support the initiatives as far as possible. In the past this support has been through financial aid, advice and promotion. Enhanced standards of maintenance have been applied wherever possible The National Trail team has an agreement to sign both Trails and the public rights of way leading off the main route (just at the junction). The National Trails Team 14

18 should be consulted about any plans to improve signage or to involve volunteers in signing. This should avoid duplication and the erection of too many signs on the National Trails There are more than 20 long distance routes that lie partially or wholly within Wiltshire, below are the primary routes: The Monarch s Way King Alfred s Trail The White Horse Trail The Macmillan Way The Imber Range Perimeter Path The Kennet and Avon Canal Towpath The Fosse Way Mid Wilts Way Sustrans routes The Cricklade Way The Avon Valley path Clarendon Way Celtic Way Sarum Way Wessex Ridgeway Three Downs Link The Wansdyke Path Stour Valley Way Aldbourne Circular Route The Ridgeway The Thames Path The aspiration to start a study of the feasibility of extending The Ridgeway to Stonehenge is one of the issues identified in the Framework for Managing the Rights of Way Network in Wiltshire The Friends of The Ridgeway have now started that study with the support and advice of the rights of way section. The extension will not have the same rights or management input as The Ridgeway, but will create an important walking route between Avebury and Stonehenge and beyond. It will link with a network of long distance routes and will feature archaeological aspects of the countryside. The project is still in its early stages. The route is being named The Great Stone Way. 15

19 3. Maintenance and Management 3.1 Sixteen people work in the rights of way section. They are mainly divided between the Operations Team and the Definitive Map Team. The two areas of work are interdependent. Rights of Way Staff Organisation Chart as of May 2008 Highway Areas Manager Rights of Way and Land Charges Manager Rights of Way Section Land Charges Section Operations Team Countryside Access Development Officer Rights of Way Technician Definitive Map Team Senior Rights of Way Officer Area Rights of Way Wardens Rights of Way Officers Rights of Way Inspectors Rights of Way Assistant Rights of Way Officer Rights of Way Assistant 16

20 3.2 Rights of Way Maintenance and Enforcement (Operations Team) There are four area wardens, based in Chippenham (North Wiltshire), Marlborough (East Wiltshire), Melksham (West Wiltshire) and Wilton (South Wiltshire). This team is backed up by rights of way staff in County Hall and has the assistance of contractors, parish and town councils, rights of way user groups and other volunteers. Landowners and managers also support the work of the wardens Two rights of way inspectors work throughout the county carrying out safety and maintenance inspections. They also do minor repairs. They work on a parish by parish inspection schedule, together with an annual inspection of promoted and strategic routes. The inspectors work in advance of the contract maintenance staff, ensuring that maintenance issues are highlighted and the work planned. They will also report or correct any public safety concerns that are brought to their attention or which are spotted during their inspection tours The Wardens manage the maintenance schedule. The practical aspects of the management are carried out by the Wardens and Inspectors, working with contractors and various volunteer groups. The work ranges from large scale capital projects to small maintenance tasks As well as the works identified by the Inspectors and the maintenance schedule generated by the Wardens, the team has also to deal with reported faults on the network. These can be reported in a variety of ways. The public, parishes and user groups sometimes contact the Wardens directly. On other occasions the reports come via Wiltshire County Council s Customer Care Unit (CCU) or through the rights of way office in County Hall As well as managing the network, the Wardens also provide expert advice on rights of way matters to county councillors, district, town and parish councils and their members, rights of way users, landowners and occupiers, as well as individual members of the public. In consultation with regulatory bodies, they will make recommendations for the protection Nettleton Church Path before repairs Picture by Ali Stewart 17

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