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Path moratorium update

Lesley Griffiths MS the Welsh Government minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd. Source: Welsh Government

A PLEA for more funding from the Welsh Government to help Powys County Council deal with a backlog of public path applications has fallen on deaf years, councillors have been told.
Back in in December, the council’s Planning, Taxi Licensing and Rights of Way committee agreed a five year pause on receiving new public path applications so that staff could attempt to tack its massive backlog.
While agreeing the moratorium, councillors also suggested that the Welsh Government were contacted to ask for “further resources to have more staff and improve the service.”
A public path order is the process where a public right of way, footpath, bridleway, or restricted by-way can be diverted, a new path created or it can be extinguished.
There are around 12,000 footpaths and by-ways in Powys.
At the committee meeting on Thursday, March 16, councillors were updated on the situation.
On January 5, committee chairman, Cllr Karl Lewis wrote to the Welsh Government minister to Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths to ask for further funding.
Cllr Lewis said: “A report was presented to us  which starkly highlighted the scale of the challenges.
“Between 2010 and 2022, the core  funding and staff time available for definitive map and commons registration legal casework has reduced by 60 per cent .
“This has resulted in a backlog of over 200 public path order applications and a further 14 pending definitive map modification order applications.
“The Welsh Government Access Improvement Grant capital funding that has been made available for access enhancements between 2022 and 2025 is very welcome.”
But this cannot be used for day to day work.
Cllr Lewis said: “We are writing to highlight this for your consideration, in view of the access reform programme which could, at the very least, reduce some of the process related burdens on progressing definitive map casework.
“If it were also possible to look at revenue funding for this work with greater flexibility of use, that could allow the council to address backlogs of casework in the short term.
In response Ms Griffiths MS said: “I am pleased Powys County Council are benefiting from the Access Improvement Grant and using it to make improvements to the public rights of way network.
“Unfortunately, there are no immediate plans to introduce additional revenue funding in this area
“Local authorities receive a settlement each year to fund their services.
“It is for local authorities and their elected councils to determine how they fund each of their service areas.”
Ms Griffiths pointed out that Powys will received an above Wales average 8.7 per cent increase from the Welsh Government for the  2023/2024 budget.
Ms Griffiths added: “I recognise the Access reform programme may reduce some of the process related administrative burdens and my officials will explore this further as resources allow.”
The committee noted the contents of the letters.