Many Public Rights of Way will be diverted, closed or extinguished by HS2 Ltd to make way for the HS2 Railway. Like many others Colton Parish will be affected by Phase 2A of the railway. Colton Ramblers have responded to the latest Environmental Statement consultation that closed at 23.45hrs 30 September 2017. Our consultation confined itself to Public Rights of Ways within the Parish of Colton, Staffs directly affected by the railway in an attempt to mitigate the impact that HS2 will have.
Petitions are now being heard by the Select Committee.
Staffordshire Rights of way consultation
Working together to manage the rights of way network
More people will be able to benefit from volunteering in the outdoors following the rights of way consultation.
Staffordshire has one of the largest rights of way networks in the country with over 4,500km of bridleways and footpaths, and the county council is committed to keeping them open and safe for people to use and enjoy.
However, as the council’s income reduces but demand for services such as adult social care increases, the council needs to find new ways of working in everything it does, which includes the rights of way network.
Your council’s small rights of way team receives over 2,000 calls a year and needs a way to ensure that the smaller amount of money available and officers’ time is spent on those paths and issues that add most value to the people of Staffordshire.
Hundreds of stakeholders, partners and members of the public took part in a 10 week consultation which was held at the end of last year. This was about proposals to use council resources better but also about what to do to get more members of the community involved and benefiting from the social, health and wellbeing advantages of volunteering in the outdoors.
It is clear from the consultation that community groups and local organisations are willing to get more involved and support the rights of way network.
Over two – thirds of local councils (parish councils, town councils, etc) are willing to consider taking on more of a role in liaising with landowners to ensure that rights of way on their land are safe and available for everyone to use.
The county council will be starting a conversation with local councils and the Staffordshire Parish Council Association about how this could work and the support and grants that are available to landowners. The county council is extending the Community Paths Initiative (typically grants of up to £2,000) to support re-surfacing, gates, bridges and vegetation control, etc, that promote or improve countryside access to support landowners.
How the council has categorised each right of way is largely correct - three quarters of the paths were not contested.
That we needed to look at local insight about 99 paths that were received through the consultation.
The A, B, C categorisation system will see proactive maintenance primarily focus on A paths, with issues addressed on A paths ahead of those categorised as B or C.
77 paths have been re-categorised to receive more direct support from the council than was originally proposed.
The proposed times for dealing with issues on paths and to undertake path inspections was too long.
The council has reduced the times that were originally proposed with regards to how quickly issues are dealt with by the council and the time between path inspections.
Rights of Way Target Standards (526kb)
A third of respondents said that they would be interested in getting more involved in looking after the rights of way network.
The council will continue to run the Countryside Volunteer Programme, which encourages people to get involved in a variety of outdoor activities such as installing and repairing path surfaces gates, stiles, foot-bridges and steps. The council is also looking to introduce new schemes such as an Adopt a Path Scheme.
To express an interest in helping us to develop the volunteer programmes or to become a countryside volunteer, please email email@example.com
Staffordshire County Council Rights of Way Charter
Staffordshire has an extensive Public Rights of Way network, comprising over 8,000 individual routes, spanning over 4,500km.
The council works with landowners, parish councils and user groups to protect the public's right to use and enjoy the network.
Whilst every footpath and bridleway is important, an approach is needed that concentrates the council’s limited rights of way resources on those routes and issues that deliver the greatest benefit. Therefore, each route has been assessed against nine criteria (such as demand, proximity to publicly accessible land and local services), which places it into one of three categories - A, B and C. Each category has a different response time, dependant on the issue identified. For example, a missing fingerpost on an A category route will be dealt with sooner than a missing fingerpost on a C category route. The exception to this is where an issue poses an imminent danger, likely to result in a significant accident or injury, and in these instances, the council will respond straightaway, regardless of a route’s category.
The Rights of Way Charter (520 KB) sets out the standards that the council aims to meet when it has received an enquiry. Please note that these are desired standards and they are dependent on many factors, including available manpower and budget, weather and ground conditions, accessibility to the site, and environmental issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all public paths rights of way?
Public rights of way are highways over which members of the public have a legal right of passage over someone else’s land. However, only routes shown on the Definitive Map and Statement are public rights of way.
If a public right of way is included on a Definitive Map, it is conclusive evidence in law that the public have a right of passage even if the route is not visible on the ground.
The Statement that accompanies the Definitive Map is a brief written description of the recorded public right of way.
Do public rights of way cease to exist if they are not used?
No, a Public Right of Way can only be extinguished by a Legal Order or by direction of the Court.
Can I ride a bicycle or a horse on a public footpath?
No, the right of way is on foot only.
Are dogs allowed on public rights of way?
Yes, but it has to be kept on a lead or under close control. The Countryside Code messages about Keeping dogs under effective control includes advice to let the dog off lead if threatened, as well as giving animals plenty of space.
Who is responsible for maintaining Staffordshire's footpaths and bridleways?
Please refer to the Responsibilities page for more information.
What is a 'permissive path'?
A permissive path, sometimes termed a concessionary path, is a route which the landowner permits the public to use, with the intention that it should not become a public right of way.
Permitted paths should be seen as a supplement to the rights of way network, not as a substitute for rights of way, particularly if the definitive route is obstructed.
To ensure that the public does not acquire a right of way, it is advisable for a landowner to erect Notices to that effect. An example of such a Notice is set out below:
"This path is private property and is not a public highway. Members of the public are allowed to use the path on the strict understanding that such use will not in any way constitute or contribute to the dedication of a highway under Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980, and that the landowner reserves the right to close it either temporarily or permanently at any time."
The landowner may wish to close the path at certain times of the year and remains responsible for the maintenance of the path, including its surface.
Public access is also sometimes allowed to land that is subject to a Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Such routes are administered by the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs
Can a bull be kept in a field which is crossed by a path?
It is an offence punishable by a fine to keep a bull in a field or enclosure crossed by a public right of way, unless the bull is under eleven months old, or is not one of the recognised dairy breeds and is accompanied by cows or heifers. Recognised dairy breeds are currently defined as Ayrshire, British Friesian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry.
How can I report problems I find when I am out on Staffordshire's paths?
You can use our online reporting system.
What are my rights on a footpath or bridleway?
- On a public footpath the right of way is on foot only. A dog is considered an usual accompaniment, but must be under close control at all times. Such routes are waymarked with yellow arrows.
- On a public bridleway the right of way is on foot, bicycle, or on horseback. Such routes are waymarked with blue arrows.
- On a B.O.A.T. (Byway Open to All Traffic) the right of way is on foot, bicycle, on horseback or by motor vehicle. Such routes are waymarked with red arrows.
How are footpaths and bridleways marked in Staffordshire?
- Yellow waymarker arrows denote a footpath.
- Blue waymarker arrows denote a Public Bridleway.
- Red waymarker arrows denote a Byway Open To All Traffic (B.O.A.T.)
If a path is obstructed can I deviate to avoid the obstruction?
If a path is obstructed by a landowner, you have a right to deviate on to other land belonging to the same landowner to avoid the obstruction.
There is no right for anyone to go onto land owned by another land owner in order to avoid an obstruction. Users have no right to deviate if a path has become obstructed as a result of natural causes e.g. the erosion of a riverside path or an obstruction due to a landslide.
In some situations a right of way may have come into existence as a result of the usage of an alternative path (Section 31 Highways Act 1980 or by the Common Law); or by dedication of the landowner.
Can I walk around a field if a farmer has planted a crop over the public right of way?
In the case of cross field paths which have not been reinstated, users do not commit trespass if they walk around the edge of the field to rejoin the path at its other end. There is no right for anyone to go onto land owned by another land owner to avoid an obstruction.
In England and Wales you are not permitted to stray from the public right of way even if it is a bit muddy. This is unless you are on land designated as 'Open Access' under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. This is marked in orange on the latest Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps).
If you are on private land whether there is a boundary fence or not (like somebody's garden) then you are trespassing.
If there is an obstruction on the path then a path user has the right to deviate to avoid the obstruction. This is only onto land owned by the owner responsible for the obstruction.
The Definitive Map and Statement are paper documents available to view at the County Council Offices, District and Borough Council Offices and some public libraries. The Definitive Map and Statement has recently been revised for South Staffordshire, Newcastle, Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield and Tamworth, and the revision process is underway for the remaining districts. Each district or borough receives maps for their specific area. It is a legal document and the inclusion of a right of way is conclusive evidence of the existence of that right of way, whatever its physical state may be.
However, the reverse is not true. A way not shown on the Definitive Map can still be a right of way, although its status would need to be proved. These routes are not publicly maintainable until such a time as they are recorded on the Definitive Map.
The Statement is a brief written description of the rights of way.
The County Council, as surveying authority has a duty under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 to keep the Definitive Map and Statement under continuous review.
Once a Definitive Map is published, it becomes a legal document. Any amendments to the Map either to change the particulars of a route shown, or to add or delete a path from the Map, can only be achieved by a Map Modification Order.
If any person has evidence to suggest that the Definitive Map is in error, he/she may submit an application under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, for the Map to be modified:
- to show that a right of way exists over a way not shown on the map at all
- to delete a right of way from the Definitive Map and Statement on the ground that it was included in error;
- to downgrade its classification where its status has been incorrectly recorded;
- to correct and error in the Definitive Map or Statement without changing the status of the way.
You can search for modification order applications with the Rights of Way Modification Application Register
Modification orders do not create new public rights of way. Where there is the necessary evidence that a public path already exists, a modification order may add the path to the Definitive Map. Similarly, Modification Orders may reclassify, delete or modify highways already shown on the Definitive Map.
In each case, the County Council is under a duty to investigate the matters stated in the application and to decide whether or not to make an Order to modify the Definitive Map. The applicant may appeal to the Secretary of State if they decide not to make an Order.
Applications made under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, are handled by the Director of Law and Governance, Martin Street, Stafford, ST16 2LE
Rights of way - On the map
If you wish to see public rights of way on a map in Staffordshire, please visit our interactive mapping facility. (Please note, this is for information only. It is not the Defintive Map.)
Viewing the Definitive Map
Please note that the Definitive Map of Public Rights of Way in Staffordshire is available for inspection, by prior arrangement at:
No. 1 Staffordshire Place, Tipping Street Stafford ST16 2DH
There is no charge for this service. Please note that no interpretation can be offered on the Definitive Map.
Single extracts are available at a cost of £5.25 up to an A3 sheet. Payments may be made by cheque to Staffordshire County Council or by credit or debit card over the phone.
Copies of the complete Definitive Map and Statement for South Staffordshire District, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough, Cannock Chase District, East Staffordshire Borough, Lichfield District and Tamworth Borough are available. Please email our Rights of Way Department on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a viewing time.