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Review of Bridgend’s public rights of way network reveals potential 30% unavailability

Bridgend County Borough Council civic offices (Pic: LDRS)

A REVIEW of Bridgend’s public rights of way network has been discussed at a Town and Community Council Forum meeting this week, with reports saying that as much as 30% of the network could be “unavailable” at any one time.

The report highlighted how alongside landowners, Bridgend County Borough Council is currently responsible for a total of 805 individual public rights of way within the borough, with a total network length of 614.59 Kilometres – a length described as being almost the distance between Bridgend and Aberdeen.

The network covers a number of routes which include things like public footpaths as well as public bridleways and byways, with ongoing inspections providing a review of assets which comprised of around  2,465 structures such as stiles, kissing gates, field gates, steps and board-walks.

Of these structures, it said along with desired improvements to routes such as new surfacing or sign-age, “The Rights of Way Section is aware of circa 900 individual assets that require some form of attention excluding sign-age maintenance.”

The report  added that these tasks would however have to be prioritised  due budget pressures, inflation, and the small size of the team which is currently made up of only five members of staff.

The report read: “Even with improved revenue and capital support, recent inflationary increases have meant that cost rises impact on the amount of work that is delivered on the network within available budgets. Furthermore, with the continuing economic difficulties the situation is unlikely to change.”

Council bosses also heard how at any given time as much as 30% of the routes could be viewed as “unavailable” for a variety of reasons such as growth of vegetation, or effect of weather on ground conditions, though  maintenance was again described as challenging given the current restraints on budget and staff.

Members in attendance noted the importance of regular feed back with local town and community councils, and asked if there were further ways for them to support the work required to maintain and improve the networks, such as the creation of a framework of suggested contractors to carry out such work. Officers said they were happy to look at such proposals moving forward.