Thanks to BM regulars Kevin Hodgson who spotted this and also Pete Jones who’s keeping tabs on the seemingly random access situation around Helvelyn. We’ll let Kev continue the story;
I Thought I’d best alert BM readers as to what Cumbria CC are up to at the moment. It seems that the reward for 6 months (and could be 9 months plus) of ROW closures is that they’ll be less of them re-opening than were originally closed. A nice “thank you” for the “co-operation” of countryside users is to use the blanket closures as a convenient smokescreen under which to remove those pesky BWs from the map.
They are closing BWs (downgrading them to FPs as they like to call it) while the BWs are closed, if you get what I mean. All of the cases that I’ve discovered are in the outlying areas of cumbria such as wigton, not real MTB heartlands at all, but I still find this a serious cheek. I mean, by law they have to place notices on the ROW signs and ask for objections from users. The thing is right now there are NO users, so hardly anyone objects. The only way you’d know about these closures was to read through all the public notices in the local paper, or to be on the parish council concerned.
After speaking to Cumbria CC this is the reply I received:
“When the foot & mouth blanket closure was announced, general advice was circulated by the DETR to postponed legal Orders whilst rights of way were closed. This, as you point out, was due to the problem that users would be unable to inspect routes to be diverted or otherwise altered.
However, it appears that the County Council have now decided to go ahead with downgradings as they do not alter the route on the ground. Full details of evidence used should be available from the County Council Legal Services. I suggest that you contact Alan Tiffen at legal services on (01228) 607367 for justification and further details of downgradings which are being progressed.”
Which seems to me to be another way of saying “if you want to stop this happening then you have to get a lawyer to fight it legally”. (after contacting a friend in Cumbria CC, that is EXACTLY what they were saying). Perhaps BM readers might want to lodge objection to ANY and ALL BW downgradings to closed ROWs to Claire Redhouse.
Cheers, Kevin Hodgson
We tried to contact Alan Tiffen at Cumbria Council legal services, but he’s not around now until next Monday. Rest assured we’ll hunt him down and find out what – if anything – we can do about the situation.