By 1998 it had become obvious to the Countryside Commission and the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR – then responsible for rights of way) that most local authorities would not be capable of achieving the National Target by by the year 2000. The Commission responded by publishing a package of proposals that aimed to reform the way rights of way would be administered and funded in future.
Rights of Way in the 21st Century (CCP 543) was based on 10 Objectives, the second of which was ‘to provide a more extensive network, particularly for riding and cycling’, which the Commission had found to be the two most disadvantaged user groups at that time.
The Countryside Commission’s Conclusions and Recommendations to Government, 1999 (CCP 550).
- adequate long-term funding was needed,
- highway authorities should carry out their duties properly, and
- improvement was needed to the legislative framework.
In their comments on Objective 2 the Commission noted that ‘horse riders, cyclists, horse-drawn vehicle drivers and motorised users all regard themselves as relatively poorly served by the currently available network’. To meet this need it recommended that the highest priority in this respect should be given to the recording of currently unrecorded rights of way.
At last, after 50 years, it began to look as though the government was about to take positive action to restore our lost bridleways . . .