ESCC is reviewing their management of rights of way and ten countryside sites, including Camber Sand Dunes and Seven Sisters Country Park. The council is seeking feedback from walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other countryside visitors on why people use public paths and open access spaces.
Responses to this survey, which runs until 20 February 2015, will help the council develop a new management plan, which it aims to put into action in April 2016.
Lionel Pringle, Treasurer of the Rother Ramblers, urged all walkers to complete the survey. "It is important that ESCC is made aware that a not inconsiderable portion of their electorate use these paths, and expect them to be kept in a useable state," he said.
However, Mr Pringle argued that the council’s current maintenance of public rights of way is inadequate. "A meagre staff and even more meagre budget" designated by ESCC to rights of way has meant paths are becoming "increasingly difficult" to use, said Mr Pringle.
"The upkeep of these footpaths is right at the bottom of the heap when it comes to county council priorities," he said. "2,000 miles of rights of way in our county are under serious threat."
Public rights of way include public footpaths, bridleways and byways. These are subject to the same legal protection as all other highways, including trunk roads. As our local highway authority, ESCC has a duty to protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of paths in the Hastings area. The council is legally responsible for maintaining the surface of paths, including bridges, and keeping them free of overgrowth. Public rights of way around Hastings can be found on the ESCC website and on Ordnance Survey’s Explorer Map 124.
The survey can be accessed here and a paper copy is available from local libraries. The survey is available in large print, Braille and languages other than English by calling 03456 080 193 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.