Best foot forward: Liberal Democrats call for more action to protect Oldham’s public rights of way

The Oldham Liberal Democrats have written to senior council officers calling for more action to protect the borough’s public rights of way.

“During the restrictions placed on all our leisure activities throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, our local countryside became more inviting, and many more residents have taken the opportunity to enjoy a walk along our local paths,” said Group Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE.

“The recent welcome appointment of a new footpaths officer has meant that we now have more capacity to protect, register and promote our countryside footpaths for the benefit of Oldham residents. I am particularly keen to ensure that the new officer continues our good work with responsible local landowners and walkers’ groups. He also must work to bring back into use, make more accessible, and register (if appropriate) more footpaths,” stated councillor Sykes.

The government have set a deadline that all countryside footpaths must be registered by 1 January 2026 and the Ramblers Association is leading a national campaign to record the estimated 49,000 miles of ‘lost’ footpaths across England and Wales. The organisation Slow Ways is also promoting access to the countryside by creating an online interactive map linking each village, town, and city in the UK.

Councillor Sykes would like to see the Council being pro-active in embracing these campaigns. “It would be wonderful if we could ensure that all of our so-called ‘lost’ footpaths are registered with the help of local walkers and if access to the Slow Ways network could be advertised on our website.”

“One final given is however the need for there to be a dedicated budget in place to make public footpaths fit-for-purpose and accessible, some require repairs and obstructions to be removed before they can be walked.”

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