The Ramblers' Dead End campaign maps areas where rights of way are most at risk

The Ramblers' Dead End campaign maps areas where rights of way are most at risk

Britain’s biggest walking charity is urging councils to use its small army of volunteers to help keep footpaths open.

The Ramblers today warned that many routes are at risk of being dead ends as cutbacks eat into local authorities’ rights-of-way budgets and paths fall into disrepair.

The campaigning group detailed 20 authorities where paths are deemed most at risk, including England’s biggest county, North Yorkshire.

The Ramblers’ Dead End campaign urges councils to put walkers and pedestrians at the top of their list of priorities and use the charity’s 12,000 volunteers to lend a hand. Otherwise, they say, the country risks becoming a series of dead ends for walkers.

The organisation’s chief executive Tom Franklin today visited Cornwall, which is third on the ‘at risk’ list, to launch the campaign. The Ramblers say years of neglect have left some ‘second class’ paths unusable but that new relationships between Ramblers volunteers and the council are starting to reap more positive results.

Mr Franklin said: “With cuts going on in different services across the country footpaths may not seem a top priority; but creating a good walking environment is a realistic, low cost way for both people and the government to meet their health and transport needs.

“Ramblers volunteers have started working with some councils to overcome these problems but we must step up this campaign or risk losing paths forever.

“We want to get the country on its feet but first we need the footpaths to do it.”

Rachel Alcock, Ramblers’ campaigns officer, added: “By neglecting paths, councils risk damaging people’s basic ability to get from A to B. Difficult paths will soon become impossible to use, creating dead ends across the network.

“Walking is a low-cost leisure activity, proven to help both physical and mental wellbeing, which is particularly important in these difficult financial times.

“The Ramblers are offering expertise, with practical help and advice, to work with all councils and put pedestrians and walkers back at the top of their priority list.”

The authorities where the rights-of-way networks are most at risk, according to the Ramblers, are:

  • Buckinghamshire
  • North Yorkshire
  • Cornwall
  • Worcestershire
  • Doncaster
  • Wiltshire
  • Bath and North-East Somerset
  • Surrey
  • Warwickshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Sutton borough
  • Herefordshire
  • Dorset
  • Suffolk
  • Gloucestershire
  • Somerset
  • Barnsley
  • North Somerset
  • Isle of Wight
  • Hampshire

Problems include bridges not being replaced; definitive map applications so far behind schedule they risk being lost forever under legislative deadlines; and staff numbers being cut.

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