Press Release from Mid Lancashire Area - David Kelly
As at July-17 the current status of footpath issue reporting is as below.
LCC Footpath Statistics Figures - as a workbook.
Lancashire County Council (LCC) has recently provided statistics about the number of complaints during recent years.
Staff at LCC have commented that they think that some people are not reporting faults because they consider that the chances of anything happening is low. The thinking is that when in some future year that more money becomes available for maintaining public footpaths is that people’s expectations will increase, so they will be more likely to make a complaint.
An alternative way of looking at the figures in this period of austerity is that those who complain the least are the ones that are more likely to see a cut in services, so it is important to continue to report defects that are encountered.
LCC have also provided information about the source of complaints with Ramblers using the official LCC Footpath Complaint Form being the most frequent source of complaint in the years between 2004 and 2010. This is still the way staff at LCC like to receive a footpath complaint for it is the only method that allows for both a digital photograph and comments about the fault to be entered. A good photograph and description may enable staff at LCC to save time by not having to do an initial site visit.
The most popular method of complaining about a footpath is now to use the internet, for with a modern smartphone it is now very easy and quick to make a complaint this way. Using LCC’s Highways web site allows the user to enter the location and to also enter a description, but it does not allow for a photograph to be uploaded. This report will then be passed to the group that handles fault reports in respect of public footpaths.
We have recently learnt that the staff in the section concerned with public footpath complaints do not have the facility to pass information back to the Highways Web Site. This means that a report made through the Highways Web Site will result in a red dot being displayed at the location concerned on the Highways Web Site, and this will be removed 12 months later, be it that action has been taken or the report has joined the backlog of reports. The user after an initial acknowledgement usually gets no further updates as to what has happened to the reported fault. (It could be that a report about a fault on a road made through the Highways Web Site may get updated by the staff in Highways.)
LCC’s Highway Web Site is limited to Lancashire. The other method of making a fault report is via Pathwatch which will allow for a fault report to be made about anywhere in England. This method will allow for a digital photograph to be uploaded but presently does not always allow for text to be entered. For example a photograph of a wobbly stile will look perfectly normal, so why is it being reported ? http://www.ramblers.org.uk/get-involved/big-pathwatch.aspx
LCC provides group footpath secretaries with reports at periodic intervals about complaints made using the standard reporting form, but not in respect of any other method used to make a footpath complaint. The use of smartphones whilst it is easy and quick for the user to do, is likely to have implications for how Ramblers will campaign for better footpaths.