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We, as Highway Authority for the area, aim to ensure the borough's public rights of way network is properly maintained, recorded on the definitive map and promoted. We work with:
We aim to facilitate the use and enjoyment of the entire network by all sections of the population.
There is in excess of 100 miles (160 km) of legally recorded public rights of way in the borough, for which we are responsible.
Our attractive landscape means there are a number of excellent walks throughout the borough. Our Ranger Service has produced free leaflets for the following trails:
These leaflets are being updated, and once republished will be made available for download.
Printed leaflets may also be obtained from our libraries and Ranger Service visitor centres located at:
The Rights of Way Improvement Plan for Merseyside has more information.
By law all members of the public have a right of passage along public rights of way, all of which are classified according to the nature of the public's rights along them. There are four categories of public right of way that appear on the definitive map and statement:
The public right of way is on foot only. Public footpaths are often waymarked with yellow arrows.
The public right of way is for pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists. Anyone cycling must give way to people on foot and on horseback. Public bridleways are often waymarked with blue arrows.
This definition replaced the former RUPP (Road Used as Public Path) category following commmencement of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006. This public right of way is for all types of traffic except motorised vehicles. Restricted byways are often waymarked with purple arrows.
Being a carriageway, the public right of way is on foot, on horseback and for vehicular traffic, but which is used mainly for the purposes for which footpaths and bridleways are used (for example walkers and horse riders). Byways are often waymarked with red arrows.
Various case law has over the years defined 'usual accompaniments'. There is no exhaustive list of usual accompaniments, and whether a particular item comes within this term is a matter for the court to decide. On footpaths prams and pushchairs have long been deemed to be usual accompaniments, but it is submitted that bicycles on footpaths are not usual accompaniments and therefore trespass is committed even if someone pushes or walks with a bicycle along a footpath.
The Council's Definitive Map and Statement currently has a relevant date of 1st May 2007, meaning that the information contained on the map and statement is correct only on this date. There have been temporary and permanent changes to the public rights of way network since May 2007. Changes of a temporary nature generally last 6 months at a time and are not recorded on the definitive map and statement. The map is currently unavailable to view due to updates to the mapping system.
The permanent changes to the network since May 2007 consist of relatively minor diversions, confirmed under Section 116 of the Highways Act 1980 for the following public footpaths:
Due to the legislation governing the Definitive Map, permanent changes cannot automatically be recorded unless there is a separate 'Legal Event Order'. Due to this extra administrative process, Legal Event Orders are generally made when there are a number of confirmed Orders to process. However, confirmed Orders are reported to the Ordnance Survey as soon as possible. It is then up to Ordnance Survey to include this information in their next scheduled revision.
To help matters, the Council has now created a 'working copy' of the Definitive Map and Statement, which is available to view online. This is not the legal record, but takes the information from the legal Definitive Map and Statement and includes with this the permanent changes listed above.
St Helens Council carries out its statutory duty to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of, and to prevent so far as possible the stopping up or obstruction of, public of rights of way. The Council must ensure that its public rights of way network is kept free from obstruction so as to be used without difficulty. Various legislation provides powers to deal with obstruction, being danger, unlawful closure, interference and encroachment on public rights of way. Allegations of obstruction will be investigated and the appropriate action taken for the removal of anything placed upon the highway that is deemed to present an obstruction.
In addition to public rights of way, other non-recorded private rights of access may exist along the same route, or exist in isolation along completely separate routes. A common example is a farm access road carrying private vehicular rights to the farm along a recorded public footpath. Private rights must not be exercised in such a way as to interfere with the rights of the public. The Council does not hold records of private rights of access, way leaves or easements. Usually private rights are mentioned in the deeds of all properties concerned. As different rules apply for private rights, in the event of a dispute it is recommended that independent legal advice be sought from a solicitor or land agent. The Council does not get involved in such matters unless the rights of the public are affected.
All surveying authorities are required to keep electronic registers of the following:
Deposits of maps, statements and declarations made under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 (public rights of way acknowledged by landowners).
This is a register of declarations that have been lodged and maps and statements that have been deposited under section 31(6) of the 1980 Highways Act. These declarations and statements enable landowners to formally acknowledge public rights of way across their land and, in doing so, create a presumption that they have no intention to dedicate any further routes across their land. These declarations remain continuously valid so long as they are renewed every 10 years at the latest.