Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Bedford Borough Council - Wasting Public Money

Wilstead Footpath No. 8
Obstructed by stable block, shed, gates and fences

Bedford Borough Council has wasted thousands of pounds of public money by making an order to divert a footpath and then formally abandoning it because council officers forgot to tell anyone that an order had been made. Unapologetic and unrepentant, council officers plan to spend thousands more on a new order to divert the path.
The path in question is Wilstead Footpath No. 8.
Earlier this year I wrote about a proposal to divert the path. See HERE. What I didn’t know at the time of writing was that an order had already been made in 2013. No one outside the council knew either - because the council never gave notice of the making of the order which is a statutory requirement.
The path cannot be used because it is obstructed by the landowner. It seems reasonable to me that the council, whose legal duty it is to protect our public rights of way, should either take enforcement action against the obstructions or require the landowner to apply and pay for a diversion. It should not be for the council to assist a landowner to get round path law, and when it does choose to do so it shouldn’t cock up the procedure. Having wasted thousands, the council will use more public money to pay (to the tune of £3000 according to a council estimate) for a new diversion order.
See the council’s letter withdrawing the order HERE.
Despite what is said in the first paragraph of the letter, neither I nor the Open Spaces Society were consulted about the 2013 order (not that we have to be consulted). “The Authority” does not mean “Bedford Borough Council”; it means council officers on behalf of the council. And you won’t find any mention of costs, reasons for the delay or an apology for the cock up which I attribute to council officer incompetence and lack of elected councillors’ interest.
Regrettably, Bedford Borough Council has wasted more public money. On 4 August, “the Authority” also resolved to withdraw another twelve public path orders because they are flawed, with an officer resolution awaited on a further two flawed orders. The letter regarding the twelve (but not the cheque) is in the post I think.