A long-term vision to create a network of easy to use paths connecting the countryside with local towns and villages for people of all ages, has been published by Wrexham Council.
The ‘Rights of Way Improvement Plan’ (ROWIP) is a strategic document which lays out how Wrexham Council will deliver improvements to the rights of way network and how it will continue to improve the management of rights of way over the next 10 years.
The draft plan is the first of its kind to have been created since November 2007.
It has been published ahead of a meeting of the homes and environment committee on Wednesday afternoon.
The public rights of way network in Wrexham County Borough consists of 783 kms of footpaths, 60 kms of bridleway and 7 kms of byways open to all traffic.
Between 2008/9 and 2016/17 a total of 1726 lengths of paths in Wrexham received work, 177 bridges and bridge crossings were repaired, 713 new kissing gates and 528 stiles installed/repaired and 1053 finger posts erected to indicate the right of way.
Many of the improvements were made possible using grant funding from the Welsh Government – a factor which Wrexham Council say has been an important aspect of the local ROWIP of the past decade.
However due to a reduction in Welsh Government funding and a period of austerity, the plan highlights the importance of ‘partnership working’ – particularly with community councils and voluntary organisations – to ensure that the network can be both maintained and improved in the future.
Ahead of the creation of draft plan a public consultation took place at the end of 2018. A total of nine responses were submitted during the consultation, with five coming from local community councils.
The document sets out the future aspirations for Public Rights of Way across Wrexham, stating: “The long term vision for Wrexham’s rights of way network, is a network of paths, easy to use and useful, connecting the countryside with the towns and villages.
“The network is well used by people of all ages and abilities, walking or riding for leisure or for work. People are able to easily download a variety of information from the Council website, whether it’s for a walk, cycle ride or horse-riding route in their area or for specific information about their rights and responsibilities.
“The Definitive Map is up-to-date and published on the web. Any problems with obstructions are reported back through a network of volunteers, in each community or direct to the Council. The paths are well maintained, signed and the pride of each community.
“Providing access to greenspace, parks or the countryside through the rights of way network, for the majority of the local population, is an important part of the work of Wrexham County Borough Council.
“It brings health benefits and is a relatively low cost way of gaining fresh air and exercise and improving mental well-being. Whether this is walking in a group, alone or with a dog, running, cycling or horse-riding, encouraging more people to take exercise is a key goal of the Welsh Government.
“Fitter, healthier people reduce the strain on the National Health Service, which helps the economy.
“The first Rights of Way Improvement Plan has seen huge improvements in the accessibility of the public rights of way across Wrexham. The percentage of public rights of way which are easy to use has risen from 35 per cent across the network in 2005/6 to 77 per cent in 2016/17.”
The draft plan will be discussed by members of the homes and environment committee at 1pm on Wednesday 16th December. You can read the draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan in full here.
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