In England and Wales the ‘right of way’ refers to paths on which the public has a legally protected right to pass and re-pass. A ‘definitive map’ of all public rights of way has been complied for all of England and Wales as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way act 2000.
The web site address to view all the rights of way across Staffordshire is:
and the definitive maps for Bagnall are below. Unfortunately, they are 20+ MB and may therefore be too large to download on a mobile.
There is a responsibility placed on the local authority and landowners to ensure that these rights of way are passable, but there is also a responsibility placed upon the public to use them sensibly and to this end a Rights of Way Guide has been developed.
In brief, path users must
- keep strictly to the line of the path and must not loiter;
- can walk a dog on a lead or under close control, particularly when crossing land containing animals;
- must clear up dog waste; and
- can take a short, reasonable detour to get round any illegal obstruction.
The Highways Department of the County Council has a responsible for the maintenance of public rights of way, including
- keep the surface of the public path network in good repair and control vegetation (other than crops) growing from it;
- maintain bridges over natural water courses, including farm ditches;
- signpost rights of way from metalled roads and provide additional signs and waymarks as necessary along the route;
- secure the removal of obstructions.
To assist the County Council in its inspection of public rights of way a charter has been developed.
Landowners must keep rights of way clear of obstructions;
- cut back vegetation encroaching from the side and overhanging the path;
- ensure that all field-edge public paths are never cultivated and cross-field paths are cultivated (i.e. ploughed or disturbed) only when it is not convenient to avoid them and are properly reinstated after disturbance;
- maintain stiles or gates on public paths that cross their land;
- ensure that bulls are not kept in a field crossed by a path; and
- never keep animals that are known to be aggressive in a field to which the public has access
The Parish Council has no specific duties for rights of way; however, they are given certain powers which can help the public to enjoy the public path network. Parish Councils can
- maintain any footpath or bridleway within its area which is maintainable at public expense;
- erect lighting on any footpath, if appropriate, i.e. where a path leads to a bus stop;
- create new footpaths and bridleways by agreement with the landowner;
- signpost and waymark public paths on behalf of, and with the consent of, the highway authority; and
- provide seats and shelters at the side of public paths.