Waltham Forest Council delays on its public-path duties

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We have criticised Waltham Forest Council for failing to follow the correct legal procedures on public rights of way and for severe procrastination. The council has delayed adding a public highway to its official map of public paths (the definitive map), for more than five years.

In 2007 local people submitted evidence that the footpath between Woodstock Road and Hale End, Walthamstow (E17), should be added to the map, since they had used it for at least 20 years without being stopped or asking permission—the criteria for claiming a path. The council has a duty to investigate such applications and, if the evidence is sound, to make an official order to add the path to the map.

However, the council failed to act and the residents appealed to the Secretary of State for Environment who directed the council to make the order to add the path. After many months, the council made the order but failed to show the full width of the highway. There were other errors in the order and now the council must remake it, with more delay.

Says Dennis Tilley, a member of our society who has backed local people in their claim: ‘We despair of the council ever getting it right. It seems not to understand that it has a duty to process this claim for the public highway so that it can be recorded and protected. Local people want to be able to continue to use the path to its full width.

Adds our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘It is sad that the council appears not to know what it is doing, and that it has made so many errors resulting in inordinate delays. We shall continue to press for the path to be added to the map and for its full width to be recorded as a public highway for all to enjoy.’

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