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The Voice in your Community

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From Rocester Garage to Air Ministry Cheadle...

by Bill Woodier, formerly of Rocester, now living in Cheadle

April 29th 2020

One thing the Coronavirus Lockdown has encouraged is taking daily exercise. For many people this has meant going for a walk, possibly the first for a long time.

Where to walk that is close to home would be the question. Many would choose to walk in places they had done as a child. Some would be able to do this unhindered, but others may have been told “you can’t walk here, it’s private land”.

Many would be tempted to refer to the relatively new laws regarding “Freedom to Roam” If ever there was a misnamed piece of legislation, that is it. There are so many restrictions on where you can indeed roam, there is a government website which gives all the information.

The alternative is to use public footpaths. These are shown on what is known as the Definitive Map. The problem with that is that by their own admission, those who were tasked with updating these maps failed to include many footpaths, some of which date back many years & have been in regular use. What a shame it will be if people’s inaction now, prevents future generations from accessing the walks that we have taken for granted.

It is worth noting that the vast majority of public footpaths cross privately owned land & users should recognise this & behave accordingly. It is also worth noting that when land changes ownership, the new owners only have access to the Definitive Map to identify public footpaths & especially if they are new to the area, they will be unaware of the historical use of footpaths on their land.

The Government recognises this & has set the date for paths not included on the Definitive Map, but which can be proved to have been in regular use, to be added, the date is Jan 2026.

It is the County Council which has the authority to do this as long as the qualifying conditions are met.

The following short article from a national daily newspaper refers to the urgency of the need to act:

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