Council rejects call to explore possibility of new footpaths
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013
A motion calling for the county council to help create new Norfolk footpaths has been rejected.
Liberal Democrat councillor Steffan Aquarone proposed a motion at Monday’s full council meeting asking for the authority to explore options for creating Norfolk county footpaths.
This would involve making it easier for communities to establish permissive paths - paths which the landowner allows the public to use - and reduce the cost and risk to local landowners for providing access.
Mr Aquarone’s motion said: “[The] council notes with regret that Natural England funding for permissive paths ended before the pandemic due to funding cuts, which meant a large number of permissive paths in Norfolk were withdrawn from public use.
“The council wishes to promote health and wellbeing and actively encourages citizens to engage with the natural environment through taking walks locally.
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“Local walks are a zero-carbon way of gaining exercise for a wide range of people with different levels of physical ability, and bring people closer to nature; our natural environment is one of Norfolk’s most precious assets and we wish to see an increase in the number of people who can participate in its enjoyment.”
Mr Aquarone said insurance was one of the barriers faced by local communities in establishing permissive path arrangements with local landowners and the council could investigate providing an insurance-based scheme to cover claims.
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Councillor Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport, rejected Mr Aquarone’s suggestion.
He said the council was already carrying out a seminar programme on setting up permissive paths and working with parish councils to help establish local access agreements.
“Additional funding opportunities will be approved through this work,” he said.
“Norfolk County Council manages over 2,400 miles of public right of way, we also manage two national trails and we continue to develop new trails.”
Mr Wilby pointed to plans for a new 17-mile trail from Norwich to Wymondham with associated circular walks due to be launched early next year.
Councillor Tim Adams said they were just asking for an investigation of possibilities, calling it “embarrassing” that the council would reject the motion.
The motion was lost, 20 for, 44 against and two abstentions.