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10 year Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Pembrokeshire reviewed

PEMBROKESHIRE has a large network of public footpaths but not the budget to match when it comes to maintaining it, councillors heard.

There is 1,600 miles of paths across Pembrokeshire members of the policy and pre-decision overview and scrutiny committee heard this week.

The Pembrokeshire County Council committee reviewed a report on the Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Pembrokeshire 2018 – 2028 on Friday, October 14.

The ten year plan aims to “ensure the network of public rights of way continues to be well maintained with strategic improvements being implemented where funding is available.”

Public rights of way include footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic and the council has a statutory duty to maintain a legal record of the routes and it works with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park on maintaining those routes in its area.

Cabinet member for residents’ services and leisure Cllr Rhys Sinnett said there had been an increase in use during the pandemic and that has continued, with one of the “challenges” being maintaining the network in light of increased demand.

Definitive map officer Matt Cloud said Welsh Government expected 100 per cent of networks to be available but that was “completely unrealistic” and the last figures compiled showed 70 per cent of the county’s routes were open.

“The network is huge, and the budget isn’t great,” said Mr Cloud, highlighting recent increases in costs of materials for repair of around 75 per cent following Brexit and covid.

An increase in demand for vegetation clearance requests could cost up to £25,000 more and large numbers of timber footbridges are reaching the end of their life, with a £210,000 unfunded shortfall already identified, the report states.

A more detailed report on budgets, maintenance costs, usage and management of the network will be prepared for the half way point of the plan next year, the committee was told.

The rights of way across the county were published in an interactive map early this year and can be found on the council website.

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