Milestones Statement 2021/22
To consider the Milestones Statement for 2021/22.
The Chairman introduced the Milestones Statement and said that there was over 300km of footpaths, rights of way and bridleways across the borough. Volunteers had spent a significant amount of time ensuring that rights of way were maintained, which was hugely appreciated.
Anthony Hurst explained that the statement aimed to set out the targets and priorities for the year ahead. Before bringing the statement to the Panel, Anthony Hurst had consulted with the Local Access Forum and all the Parish Councils in the borough. The Local Access Forum suggested that an interim review part way through the year may be required, depending on the progress of the Borough Local Plan. They also suggested adding neighbouring local authorities to the list of interested parties. Three parish councils responded to the consultation, Cookham, Datchet and Hurley. The Public Rights of Way team would work with the parishes to include the suggestions offered, where appropriate.
Anthony Hurst presented some photographs of paths across the borough that had been improved over the past year.
The Chairman commented on the revenue budget that was available to the team being £60,000 and the capital budget being £40,000.
Councillor Rayner said that the footpaths looked good and were much improved. She also said it was pleasing to see so many volunteers give up their time to work on footpaths around the borough. She asked if sustainable materials were used as part of the strategy and if there were any links in the Milestones Statement to the council’s climate strategy.
Anthony Hurst said that sustainable materials were used where possible, with materials from old footpaths being recycled too. A good footpath network was important to the climate strategy as it encouraged more residents to use them as alternatives to travelling by car.
Councillor Brar pointed out that at Battlemead Common there would be a link to the River Thames footpath as part of the Milestones Statement. She asked if the team would be consulting with groups like Wild Cookham, Wild Maidenhead and Friends of Battlemead Common.
Anthony Hurst said that they had always consulted with the parish councils but there was no reason why those groups could not be included on the consultee list for future years. The Panel agreed that this would be useful.
Councillor Baskerville suggested that involving these extra groups could also provide an extra resource when it came to volunteers.
Councillor Rayner said that it would be good to mention the sustainability aspects as part of the statement.
Councillor Brar said that there had been a number of complaints from horse riders that they were having to use the roads in Cookham where there were gaps in the bridleway circuit. She asked if there was anything that could be done.
Anthony Hurst said that there was a recognised need for off road routes for horse riders. The Local Access Forum had set up a multi-user working group to investigate the issue and work would be done with landowners to identify any potential opportunities to open up routes further.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Rights of Way and Highway Licensing Panel approved the ‘Milestones Statement and Public Rights of Way Improvement Plan Annual Review 2021/22’.