Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A Spanner In The Works?

Kimbolton, Pertenhall & Little Staughton Order Map
Bedford Borough Council has made public path orders (two in the first case) to divert and create public footpaths in the parishes of Kimbolton (Cambridgeshire), Pertenhall and Little Staughton, and (secondly) twelve - yes 12, public path orders to create, divert and extinguish footpaths and bridleways in the parishes of Ravensden and Thurleigh.
You can see the order map for the first case HERE and the second HERE.
The orders, which stem from applications from landowners (one is a Bedford Borough Councillor) have been made because council officers, on behalf of the Council, consider it is expedient (to create), in the interests of the landowners (to divert), and because the paths are not needed by the public (to extinguish).
I am opposed to the orders in principle because, as I said HERE, I believe the Council should use its limited resources to focus on public rights of way issues which it has said are a higher priority - paths which cannot be used because they are obstructed, or anomalies such as dead end paths for instance, and unrecorded rights of way - rather than spend its time and our money on costly orders such as those mentioned above.
Objecting on principle cuts no ice when it comes to opposing public path orders however. An objection has to be judged valid in law; that the order does not meet the test(s) of the legislation.

The costs of making public path orders (some of which can be recovered from the applicant for an order) arise from the administrative and legal procedures which include site visits, negotiations, drafting and preparation of orders and maps, consultations, correspondence, drafting and sealing orders, erecting notices on the affected paths, advertising the orders in local newspapers with copies sent to prescribed bodies, etc. It can be a lengthy process and a drain on resources. And there’s more to do after orders are made because the council then has to confirm them which it cannot do if anyone objects.
I have formally objected. In order to complete the process the Council will have to submit the orders to the Secretary of State for the case to be heard at two public inquiries where an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State will hear the arguments for and against before deciding the outcome.
I may have put a spanner in the works though.
Public Path Order Regulations state that "The map required to be contained in an order shall be on a scale of not less than 1:2500, or, if no such map is available, on the largest scale readily available."
The maps contained in these orders are on a scale of 1:5000. In my opinion a map on a scale of 1:2500 was readily available.

It is my view that the Council has not complied with the regulations so the orders are flawed. If that is true then it is also my contention that the Secretary of State does not have the power to amend such a substantial defect and the fourteen public path orders will have to be abandoned - a formal process which has to be advertised.
But would the Council start all over again. I expect it would.

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