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We are disappointed that Derbyshire County Council is likely to go ahead with its proposed cuts to the rights-of-way budget, following a controversial consultation in the summer. These cuts could result in the loss of up to three staff and the extension of target times for resolving path complaints, so that it could take up to six months to deal with a problem.
Our local correspondent for South Derbyshire, Barry Thomas, says: ‘A reporter on Radio Derby last week stated that Derbyshire County Council has not yet shared the results of the consultation with the full council, and decisions have not been made about the rights-of-way budget. Yet at the same time we had an email stating that the usual bi-annual check of footpaths this November would not take place due to lack of staff and might be abandoned altogether. We also understand that several members of the team have already left.
So it seems that the county council is pre-empting the results of the consultation and making the cuts anyway.
This is a very short-sighted move by the county council especially when, at the end of October, in a parliamentary debate on the economic value of outdoor recreation, numerous MPs spoke of the considerable benefits that walking brings to the local economy.
The leading group on the council needs to remember the role that Derbyshire’s working people played in improving our access to the countryside in actions such as the 1932 Kinder Trespass. We risk returning to the days when walking in the countryside becomes a difficult and unreliable experience,’ says Barry.