There is concern that some of these clauses, when combined with the (as yet unclear) proposed secondary legislation, could reduce the future provision of our access. This real possibility is being played down.
Horse riders and carriage drivers are the people:
- who are most disadvantaged by the widespread under-recording of rights of way as footpaths (Countryside Commission, ‘Rights of Way in the 21st Century’, 1999)
- who have to rely most heavily on historical documentary evidence to establish the higher status of bridleways and restricted byways – which will cease to be an option in 2026, and
- who will be most affected by the reduction of claims due to the lack of funding, and the raising of the evidential tests, as projected by the Impact Assessment (IA) which accompanies these clauses, and who
- finally and crucially: when LAs fail to process our claims, will have to apply to a magistrate’s court (at a cost to us of £200 a time) to order them to do so. The IA describes this as a ‘effective deterrent’ – what more do you need to know about the true intentions behind this legislation.
But because this ‘package’ has been agreed on our behalf (though not necessarily with our knowledge or agreement), it seems that we do not now have the luxury of influencing the content of this Bill, or the secondary legislation that goes with it.
All we can do is highlight some of the good points and the ones bad ones: