Letter: Tangled paths

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Michael Meacher has announced proposals for changing the legislation on public footpaths and bridleways. One of these is to close thousands of miles of ancient, legal public paths, simply because they have not been registered on the definitive rights of way map.

These paths remain off the map purely through continuing negligence of national and local government. Mr Meacher proposes giving a 10-year period for the public to claim them. But the reason for having a definitive map in the first place is so that the public can know where the rights of way are.

How are we supposed to claim the ones missed off it? The only way to do this is by complicated research in archives of old public authority records, an operation requiring skill, knowledge and resources.

To make the claim requires a complicated procedure, designed to hinder applicants with unnecessary technical requirements. The task should be done on a large scale by people given the training and resources to do it properly.

Mr Meacher cannot but know that by allowing local authorities to obstruct applications, and now imposing a cutoff he will be closing for ever the public's ancient right to mile after mile of countryside access.

CHRISTOPHER PADLEY

Lincolnshire Fieldpaths Association

Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

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