Campaigners say footpath problems in Derbyshire may take up to six months to resolve

Campaigners say footpath problems in Derbyshire may take up to six months to resolve

Campaigners said a local authority’s move to cut its rights of way department was short-sighted and could lead to long delays in resolving footpath problems.

The Open Spaces Society expressed disappointment at Derbyshire County Council’s likely decision to go ahead with the planned reductions.

It said the cuts, following what the society called a controversial consultation in the summer, could result in three staff being axed and waits of up to six months to deal with problems.

The OSS’s local correspondent for South Derbyshire Barry Thomas, said: “A reporter on Radio Derby last week stated that Derbyshire County Council has not yet shared the results of the consultation with the full council, and decisions have not been made about the rights-of-way budget.

“Yet at the same time we had an email stating that the usual bi-annual check of footpaths this November would not take place due to lack of staff and might be abandoned altogether. We also understand that several members of the team have already left.

“So it seems that the county council is pre-empting the results of the consultation and making the cuts anyway.

“This is a very short-sighted move by the county council especially when, at the end of October in a parliamentary debate on the economic value of outdoor recreation, numerous MPs spoke of the considerable benefits that walking brings to the local economy.

“The leading group on the council needs to remember the role that Derbyshire’s working people played in improving our access to the countryside in actions such as the 1932 Kinder Trespass.

“We risk returning to the days when walking in the countryside becomes a difficult and unreliable experience.”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “By 2018 we’ll be getting a third less money from central Government to run council services compared to 2013, with more cuts to follow up to 2020 and possibly beyond.

“We are looking at every service we provide; some services will remain, some will be run differently but some will have to stop.

“We have consulted with the public over some possible cuts to our rights of way service and are currently analysing the responses. We’d expect to take a report to our cabinet in the New Year with the results of the consultation so that cabinet members can take a decision on the future of the service.

“We don’t want to make any cuts but like every council, we’ve got difficult decisions to make about all the services the council provide.

“Volunteers have always carried out the twice yearly survey of paths for us, and we have no plans for this to stop.”

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