Public Rights of Way
Public Rights of Way, or ‘public paths’, are footpaths or bridleways that the public has the right to access although they may be on private land. See here for information from the UK government about rights of way.
The record of public paths is the Definitive Map, which is held at North Yorkshire County Council. There is an online version of the Definitive Map, available here. The Definitive Map prevails over the Ordnance Survey map if there are discrepancies.
Landowners, the County Council and the public each have responsibilities for rights of way. Owners or occupiers of land with a public right of way across it must keep the route visible and not obstruct or endanger users as defined here. The public should follow the Countryside Code, by, for example, keeping on the public path and not leaving litter and/or dog waste behind. North Yorkshire County Council is the local authority responsible to protect the public paths, including ensuring that public paths are unobstructed, furniture is easy to use and in good condition. To report a right of way issue, complete this form and sent it to North Yorkshire County Council (see here for contact details).
The volunteer Paths Group
South Milford Parish Council has organised a volunteer group to help ensure that paths are kept in good condition and are available for everyone to use – the Paths Group. If you’d like to join, please get in touch via SMPathsGroup@gmail.com.
One current project is to survey paths without public rights of way with the view to produce a report and to make applications to North Yorkshire County Council to classify them as a public path. Another project is to define circular walking routes in and around the parish.
A timeline of the Parish Council’s activities
In January 2020, the Parish Council contacted North Yorkshire County Council about the status of the path between Common Lane and the bypass, and of London Road. North Yorkshire County Council clarified that the path between Common Lane and the bypass was a public bridleway, but London Road from the War memorial to the south does not retain a public right of way. However, the Parish Council is aware that London Road is recorded as being within the ownership of North Yorkshire County Council. The Parish Council has contacted North Yorkshire County Council repeatedly about London Road but no further information has been forthcoming.
In August 2020, the Parish Council formed a team of volunteers to audit all the public paths in the Parish.
In January 2021, South Milford Parish Council and Monk Fryston Parish Council issued a joint statement about the issues with two paths: the path from Common Lane to Ingthorne Lane, and the path on Long Heads Lane. The statement is below.
The Parish Council is pleased that North Yorkshire County Council clarified the official route of the path from Common Lane to Ingthorne Lane. The Parish Council notes that a member of the public has applied for the “Ordnance Survey” route over Turpin Lane to be classified as a public path, which the Parish Council supports. The letter of support is below.
Unfortunately, the issue with Long Heads Lane remains unresolved, and this is one of the issues that the Parish Council has raised repeatedly. The Parish Council is grateful to the landowner of the field east of the bypass for installing way markers and for creating a route from Long Heads Lane to the bypass (and to Lumby and South Milford).
In March 2021, the Parish Council sent the report about the paths survey to North Yorkshire County Council, together with a letter – the report and the letter are below.
The Parish Council received a response from North Yorkshire County Council on the 15th March 2021. This response informed us that the report was logged on their system, provided the reference numbers for each issue, and that we would be updated once the matters were resolved.
Also in March 2021, the Parish Council responded to the consultation by Network Rail about the closure of Milford crossing – the response is below. This closure means that the public path linking South Milford to Common Lane is unusable. As the main reason provided by Network Rail to close the crossing is safety concerns, the Parish Council has asked Network Rail for the risk assessment and for an update regarding Network Rail’s plan for the crossing on 7 occasions, with no response at the time of writing.
Since April 2021, one of the Parish Councillors has written about paths in the village magazine Milford Messenger.
In June 2021, the Parish Council wrote to North Yorkshire County Council because the issues remained unresolved and no official communication was received. The letter is below.
In August 2021, a Parish Councillor met with officers from the team who deals with maintenance issues of public paths. At this meeting, the officers agreed to set out a timeline to resolve the maintenance issues with public paths in the parish. The timeline was received in December 2021.
Unfortunately, the Parish Council has not been authorised to share the timeline with the public. The Parish Council is currently waiting for North Yorkshire County Council to provide a summary of the timeline that could be shared with the public and clarification to some questions about how public paths are assessed and prioritised for maintenance work.
In September 2021, the Parish Council wrote to North Yorkshire County Council to raise again the issues around blocked paths and some uncertainties in the definitive (official) routes, which remained unresolved – the letter is below. North Yorkshire County Council replied promptly to say that they were gathering information to answer and would reply shortly.
In October 2021, the Parish Council wrote to North Yorkshire County Council to complain about the temporary prohibition of traffic on the public path from Common Lane to the bypass over 6 months for works to the water network – letter below. North Yorkshire County Council responded promptly (also below) and clarified that the expectation was that the works would be completed within 3 weeks.
In November 2021, the Parish Council wrote again because no further information was received from North Yorkshire County Council about the issues around blocked paths and some uncertainties in the definitive (official) routes – letter below.
In the January 2022 meeting, the Parish Council approved writing an open letter to County Councillor Don Mackenzie, the executive member for Public Rights of Way at North Yorkshire County Council, to complain about the County Council’s processes for managing and maintaining public paths – the letter is below. The complaint is because some of the public paths are blocked, applications take many years, and the paths’ prioritisation for maintenance is unclear. The Parish Council asks North Yorkshire County Council to improve their processes so that issues are addressed promptly and public paths are open and maintained for the public to enjoy, as is their legal right.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie promptly replied to our letter, letting us know that he discussed the issues with Michael Leah, who is the Assistant Director responsible for public rights of way. Parish Councillors Tim Grogan and Rita de Faria Dean met with Michael Leah and Ian Kelly (Countryside Access Manager) on the 4th April. This was a fruitful meeting where Ian and Michael showed willingness to listen to our concerns, to engage with us, and to act as far as it is possible given the County Council’s financial and capacity constraints. We continue to be in communication regarding the actions and will update residents as soon as possible.
In the 29th March meeting, the Council reviewed the corresponded by the landowners of the Turpin Lane section by Milford Grange which is not a public right of way, who kindly authorised members of the public to walk on their sections of Turpin Lane. Following reports of uncivil behaviour by a minority of walkers, the Council asked the public to be always civil and considerate; to keep dogs on a lead to prevent interference with wildlife and damage to crops; and to pick up dog mess, noting that it is an offence punishable with a fine if it is not.