|Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford Borough|
An email to Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford Borough:
"Dear Mr Mayor,
It is now over a month since I wrote to you and I have not received your reply. If there has been a technical hitch then I would be grateful if you would forward your email or send me a copy of your letter, and I should like to apologise for having thought ill of you. Otherwise I would be grateful for the courtesy of your reply please.
It is a common occurrence for me to have to chase the Council for replies to my correspondence (this is the second such email today). I wonder if you can understand the frustration and irritation a member of the public might feel when they do not receive a response to correspondence. Some time ago now, in an effort to understand and improve communications I wrote to ask what the Council’s customer care policy was when replying to correspondence. The document that I received and kept states that an acknowledgement should be sent within three days if a full answer was likely to take longer, and that a full answer should be sent within ten days.
The Council has some fine customer care and public rights of way policies but it seems to me that it’s nothing to be proud of if the policies are not upheld.
The purpose of my correspondence and actions over the past few years has been to improve the public rights of way network in the Borough. I have not been successful. Numerous paths still cannot be used because even though the published policy (as contained in the ROWIP) is to open them, the priorities and actions have not been to do so. If I was convinced that you were interested in public rights of way, and if you had the budget that you would wish for, then I could be sure that our public rights of way would be in better shape and it would be a network to be proud of. Bedford could strive to become a Walkers Welcome town and borough http://www.walkersarewelcome.org.uk/ and the public and business could reap the benefits. It seems to me that as a portion of the Council’s budget and compared with the returns of the investment it would not require much more to noticeably improve our public rights of way.
You could make a start, if you haven’t already, by taking a closer personal interest in public rights of way. I feel that public rights of way needs a ”champion” – an elected member to ensure that the Council has the will and sufficient resources to carry out its legal duties as the Highway Authority and the Surveying Authority. For instance, in my opinion there is a vital need for a Senior Definitive Map Officer with at least one assistant to oversee and implement some of those duties. If the Council is not prepared to up the ante in securing a better than average Definitive Map Officer then it will not reap the benefits I talk of.
In addition to my question below [contained in my email dated 8th January], I should like to ask if you will do more to have our public rights of way improved, at least to a standard required by law and consistent with Council policies, and to seriously and urgently take into account the likely effects of the 2026 cut-off date given that there are numerous unrecorded rights of way in the Borough, and given that the Council currently only has a temporary (short term) definitive map officer?
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