Re Agenda item 104: Reading this report, it seems to be all about building 'greenways' but offers little investment or improvements for our existing and well-trod rights of way.
Many of our existing urban Rights of Way are used by our children to walk to school and by others to commute to work. Compared to most pavements, they are in poor condition and are not maintained to a similar safe and lighted standard that we would expect of urban footpaths and cycle-ways.
Please can you advise on how much funding will be available for updating and improving the existing paths to a decent standard so that they are safe for public use in all weathers and at all times of the day?
Our Greenway Strategy is funded by and designed as part of the mitigation of the impact of our four strategic development locations; they are mentioned as part of our Rights of Way Improvement Plan for completeness. The Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP) also offers much investment and improvement to the wider network. Indeed the focus of the plan extends far beyond the Greenway Strategy and is primarily about the extent to which the existing PROW network meets the needs of the public over the next 10 years and how efforts can be directed towards improving any gaps in meeting these needs.
The RoWIP includes 6 Statements of Action about how the various gaps identified in the report will be addressed, one of which is “Action 5: Looking after the Network”. This includes objectives such as improving the surfacing of existing paths and seeking to install street lighting or illumination on urban paths. This will be done, as the report mentions, using existing funding sources/budgets where possible however additional funding sources will also need to be identified through additional capital bids or from developer contributions.
The Council has a set amount of revenue funding each year which is used to inspect and maintain existing PROWs. This will include maintenance such as filling potholes, cutting hedges back, improving drainage, and repairing gates and stiles. However, since the Borough has over 233km of PROW network, works have to be prioritised based on priority and the popularity of the PROW.
The Council has capital funding set aside to fund the implementation of the Greenways and the Loddon Long Distance Footpath projects. In addition to this, the Council has capital funding to undertake path improvement works, particularly where paths have been affected by developments. Further funding is also allocated for the Byway Resurfacing Programme. This programme seeks to upgrade the surface of byways where the predominant use of the byway is by vehicles, to a sealed tarmac surface.
We spend approximately £75,000 on maintaining our rights of way network each year. Over the next 3 years, we also have an additional £4,512,000 of capital funding to spend on delivering Greenways, the Loddon Long Distance Path, and byway resurfacing works – all of which contribute towards improving the wider network in the Borough.