Public Rights of Way (PROW) are a vital asset for the parish and community. PROW usually cross private land and both landowners and and users of PROW have responsibilities and rights. These are outlined below, with the responsibilities of the highway authority and the parish council.

Marden Court Farm has highlighted a serious problem with dogs being off lead and dog poo not being cleared up – the farm has had 2 cows abort recently due to contact with dog poo.  Please be a responsible dog owner and keep your dog(s) on a lead on footpaths. Dogs are only allowed to walk on a footpath, not over the fields.

The parish has a Parish Footpath Officer (PFO) who: monitors PROW within the parish; liaises with landowners to ensure the PROW are in a suitable and legal state; volunteers on behalf of Balfour Beatty (Herefordshire Council’s highway contractor); and liaises with the parish council. The PFO is Sally Postlethwaite who can be contacted on sallycmp@outlook.com or 01432 880764. Problems with PROW can be reported to Sally or reported online to Herefordshire Council  https://myaccount.herefordshire.gov.uk/report-a-public-right-of-way-problem

Marden PROW can be seen on the following map or by accessing the Definitive Map held by Herefordshire Council through this link https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/government-citizens-and-rights/explore-herefordshire-map

Responsibilities and rights for Public Rights of Way (PROW): information from government guidance and law, the Countryside Code and Balfour Beatty briefing and guidelines for Parish Footpath Officers (PFOs). Responsibilities are legal requirements, rights are choices:

Landowner responsibilities

As the owner or occupier of land with a public right of way across it, you must:

  • Avoid putting obstructions on or across the route, such as permanent or temporary fences, walls, hedgerows, padlocked gates or barbed wire
  • Make sure vegetation does not encroach onto the route from the sides or above, bearing in mind the different clearances needed for users of different types of route, eg. by horse riders
  • Not cultivate (eg. plough) footpaths or bridleways that follow a field edge: minimum width to keep undisturbed is 1.5 metres for field edge footpath, 3 metres for field edge bridleway
  • Avoid cultivating a cross-field footpath or bridleway. If you have to cultivate make sure: it remains apparent on the ground for minimum width of 1 metre for footpath and 2 metres for bridleway and is not obstructed by crops; restore to at least minimum width within 14 days of first being cultivated for a crop and within 24 hrs of any subsequent cultivation (unless longer period agreed in writing by highway authority)
  • Maintain a stile or gate on a PROW that is your responsibility so it is safe and reasonably easy to use
  • Consider with the highway authority if a stile that needs replacing can be changed to a gate or preferably a gap
  • Provide adequate bridges if you add new ditches or widen existing ones.

Local highway authority responsibilities – Balfour Beatty on behalf of Herefordshire Council

The highway authority must:

  • Keep the surface of PROW which are maintained at public expense in a fit state for public use
  • Make sure obstructions are removed from any PROW – including responding, within 1 month to confirm receipt, to reports of an obstruction and a request from a member of public for it to be removed
  • Maintain some bridges over natural watercourses, including farm ditches
  • Provide at least 25% contribution to landowners’ costs for replacing and maintaining structures to control animals, eg. gates and stiles
  • Add signs where PROW leave metalled roads
  • Make sure the public’s rights to use PROW are protected
  • Make sure landowners carry out their duties and take action if they don’t
  • Maintain the definitive map and statement of PROW

The public’s rights and responsibilities

The public’s rights:

  • To use footpaths for walking, running, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs
  • To use bridleways for walking, horse riding, bicycles, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs
  • To use restricted byways for any transport without a motor and mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs
  • To use byways open to all traffic for any kind of transport including cars but mainly used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders

Marden parish has footpaths and bridleways within it

The public’s responsibilities:

  • Leave gates and property as you find them, whether open or shut
  • Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries – climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them and increase the risk of farm animals escaping
  • Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home – clean up after your dog and get rid of its mess responsibly – dog mess is unpleasant and can cause infections in farm animals as well as humans eating infected meat
  • Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people using PROW
  • Keep dogs under effective control to ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses and other people – keep your dog on a lead or keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command, ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access
  • Keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and welfare of animals. If cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead so it can run away
  • Plan ahead, you are responsible for your own safety and others in your care, particularly children. Animals can behave unpredictably if you get too close especially if they’re with their young

Parish Footpath Officer (PFO) guidance and responsibilities

  • PFOs are appointed by and represent Herefordshire Council after being nominated by their parish council
  • PFOs are the link between the parish council and Balfour Beatty/Herefordshire Council’s PROW Service and are directly responsible to the Balfour Beatty Locality Steward, acting as Herefordshire’s highway contractor
  • PFOs need to differentiate between landowner responsibility and Herefordshire Council responsibility
  • PFOs are authorised to undertake waymarking of routes and minor maintenance eg. clearing growth around stiles, gates and signposts but need to consult the Locality Steward before making verbal/written agreements with landowners
  • The Locality Steward may request a PFO to undertake inspections and/or liaise with landowners in the parish
  • PFOs must not undertake lone working using power tools on a PROW, there must always be a second person in attendance to manage public access and act as security lookout

Parish councils’ rights and PROW work in Marden

  • Previously, the Parish Paths Partnership (P3) scheme in Herefordshire provided funding allowed to parishes to undertake practical work such as vegetation clearance, repairing and installing items such as gates, stile cross-steps, ditch crossings, signposts, waymarker posts, minor drainage and surfacing works – all with agreement from the Locality Steward and relevant landowners. However, parishes had no obligation to join the P3 scheme
  • P3 funding has now been withdrawn and parishes must choose whether to continue undertaking work on PROW from precept funding
  • Marden used P3 funds as follows
    • In 2015-16 – installation of kissing gates on MR24, installation of finger posts on various footpaths, stile and ditch crossing repairs on various footpaths
    • In 2016-17 – strimming on MR24, repair of stile on MR24
    • In 2017-18 – installation of kissing gates on MR17 and MR5, strimming on MR24 x2, cutting back on round stile on MR46
    • In 2018-19 – installation of kissing gates on MR21, strimming on MR24 x3 – shortfall in P3 funding for installation of gates from precept funding
  • Marden used precept funding
    • In 2019-20 – strimming on MR24 x2 and MR21
    • In 2020-21 so far – strimming on MR24, round the kissing gates on MR21, MR45 from Laystone Bridge to the church – 5 times a year

Marden parish has 28.5 km of PROW (in comparison to Bodenham which has 19.1 km, Moreton which has 2.2 km and Sutton which has 15.8 km).

 

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