This case involves the claim for a change in status of an existing public right of way which crosses the Borough Council border of Guildford and Woking. It would be usual to take Rights of Way cases to the Local Area Committee however, because it would involve two Committees we have been advised to bring it to Planning and Regulatory Committee instead. This is in accordance with section 9.2 of the Surrey Code of Best Practice in Rights of Way Procedures.
The Committee agreed to a change of agenda order in order to deal with items of public interest first.
- Alan Stones, Planning Development Control Team manager
- Nancy El-Shatoury, Principal Solicitor
- Catherine Valiant, Countryside Access Officer
Mr. Garland, a local resident, made representations in objection to the application. The following points were made:
- The committee were requested to refuse the application or adjourn it for further enquiry
- Mr. Garland questioned the dates around the 20 year period relating to the Highways Act 1980 submitted in the report and explained that the current date details 2006 when the correct date should be 1 June 2013
- Informed the Committee that a case had previously been brought to the High Court regarding the public footpath in which the County Council had lost and had to pay the Court fees.
- Informed the Committee that any use of cycles on the footpath was illegal as signs clearly label it as a footpath.
Mr. Salaman, a local resident, made representations in objection to the application. The following points were made:
- That there were gates and a trench put in place to discourage access which showed there was no intention to dedicate.
- Informed the Committee that the Council accepted that the signs were put in place so there must be a record of this.
- That the evidence that stated cyclists did not see signs is not credible as it was impossible to go down Muddy Lane and not see them.
- A previous case regarding Muddy Lane in 2012 had concluded with Mr. Justice Collins stating that he was satisfied that it was only a footpath.
- Concern was expressed that much of the material had only reached him in the last two days and that was not a satisfactory amount of time to prepare.
Key Points made during the discussion:
1. The Countryside Access Officer introduced the report and the update sheet tabled at the meeting and appended to these minutes. She responded to the local resident’s points by informing the committee that the case that previously went to the High Court, although it concerned the path, was a completely different matter and was not relevant to the current issue. The Principal Solicitor agreed this and reminded Members that they must make a decision on relevant evidence.
2 A Member questioned who else was able to use the path as all evidence had been gained from cyclists. The Countryside Access Officer responded to this by informing the Committee that although horse riders may use the path, the majority of users were cyclists.
3. Members discussed the security of the pathway as it was important to maintain and prevent illegal use such as illegal dumping of waste and the use of quad bikes on the pathway.
4. The Chairman reminded the Committee that their role was to make a decision based on the evidence presented and currently evidence suggested that cyclists were the main users of the path.
5. The Principal Solicitor informed the Committee that the Wildlife and Countryside Act made it a duty that mapping should be under continuous review and that should there be new evidence of use then it was the Council’s statutory obligation to review the Definitive Map.
Action/further information to be provided: