Protect Our Paths
Norfolk is a beautiful county with miles of rural pathways for locals and visitors to explore. In 2012, as part of the county council’s budget cuts, the footpath network was split into two, with Norfolk’s 400 miles of long-distance trails ‘The Trail Network’ getting a better standard of care and attention that the remaining 2,000 miles of ordinary paths. This inevitably caused a deterioration in accessibility of many footpaths across the county and complaints to the Council about public rights of way increased five-fold.
However in the Spring of 2015 CPRE Norfolk and a number of other stakeholders took part in a series of workshops with Norfolk County Council who was keen to look again at its policy on footpath management. The workshops were very positive and the Council has now committed to improve the way ‘ordinary footpaths’ are managed. It is keen to work more closely with parish councils and community groups to help identify which footpaths should get attention first, to monitor the condition of their local footpaths and possibly undertake small maintenance and clearing activities.
What CPRE Norfolk is doing to help
- We will continue to press those responsible for budget-setting at the Council to restore appropriate funding to enable it to carry out its statutory duty with regard to footpath maintenance without the need to rely on voluntary community groups.
- We will support and work with the Council Council’s Public Rights of Way team to help them improve the service they provide.
- We will continue to promote the benefits of walking in the countryside for mental and physical well-being.
How you can help
- Work on the ground. If you would like to help keep your footpaths free and accessible, you can do this informally, perhaps by snipping back brambles on your daily walk, or more formally by volunteering to monitor and maintain your local paths.
- Become a footpath warden. Many parish councils in Norfolk have volunteers who have taken on the responsibility of monitoring the footpaths in their parish. These wardens report regularly (perhaps twice a year) on the condition of their local footpaths and then liaise with their parish council and the County Council to ensure any mowing, clearing or maintenance is carried out. If you are interested in carrying out this role, please get in touch with your local parish council.
- Lobby decision makers. Remind your local councillors that footpaths are important to you and to the rural economy of Norfolk. The Council is legally obliged to maintain public rights of way but continued budget cuts are preventing them from meeting its statutory duties.
- Celebrate the footpaths in your parish. Why not find out more about the history of your footpaths and create a local map to encourage other people to explore their footpaths? The more footpaths are used, the more likely they are to stay accessible. Why not follow in the steps of the four parishes of Thompson, Beachamwell, Horning and Reepham who researched the history of footpaths in their area in 2013 and reported their findings and experiences at Exploring our Footpaths.