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We have urged our members in Wales to contact their council candidates for the local-government elections on 4 May and ask for candidates’ support for public paths, open spaces, common land and village greens.
We refer to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and its seven goals.¹ The Act requires there to be a Public Services Board in every local authority area; it must produce a local Well-being Plan to deliver these goals. Public paths, open spaces and public access are highly relevant to their delivery. The local authority is represented on the Public Services Board, and therefore councillors can have a direct input.
We suggest that our members put questions such as the following to their candidates.
If elected, will you ensure that the protection and promotion of public paths and open spaces feature in the council’s forthcoming Well-being Plan as important contributors to the achievement of its well-being goals?
If elected, will you urge the council:
• to ensure that there is adequate funding to maintain the public-path network in accordance with its statutory duties?
• to take action against unlawful works on common land in accordance with its powers?
• voluntarily to dedicate land as town or village green, and to press other landowners to do so, in particular when new development is proposed? (This will protect the land in perpetuity and give local people rights of recreation there.)
These are all issues which councillors can influence. It will be good to know which candidates pledge their support for these propositions which will benefit their constituents enormously.
¹ The well-being goals are: a prosperous Wales, a resilient Wales, a healthier Wales, a more equal Wales, a Wales of cohesive communities, a Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language, a globally-responsible Wales.