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Agenda item

Public Rights of Way - Review of Definitive Map Processes and Impact of Imminent Implementation of the Deregulation Act 2015

The Corporate Director of Economy & Place to present a report which sets out the results of a review of the council’s Definitive Map processes undertaken following the decision of the Local Ombudsman in respect of a complaint, and seeks authority to make the changes required as a result of that review.

Decision:

Resolved:  (i)      That the findings of the Review of the Statement of Priorities be supported and that the revised Statement at Annex 6 be adopted, including the requirement to ensure that any direction from the Secretary of State at Defra (SOS) will be dealt with within either 3 months or 12 months, according to the type of direction received.

 

                   (ii)      That an amendment to the current scheme of delegation be authorised so that definitive map modification order applications to make changes to the definitive map and statement will be determined by an Assistant Director or more senior officer with responsibility for the Rights of Way team, in consultation with the Executive Member for Transportand affected ward councillors.

 

                   (iii)     That a report considering the progress of reducing the backlog of definitive map modification order applications be presented to the Executive Member for Transportevery 6 months, with a copy to be sent to the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

                   (iv)    That an apprentice / trainee role for rights of way be developed, to focus initially on definitive map modification order applications, with the cost of  this - £25,000, to be incorporated as unavoidable growth in the 2020/21 budget process for consideration by Full Council when setting the budget for 2020/21.

 

                   (v)     That further resources be kept under review to ensure that the council delivers on its new commitment to deal with SOS directions within either 3 months or 12 months according to the type of direction received.

 

Reasons:   a)      With the aim of eliminating the definitive map modification order backlog in the shortest possible time with the resources available.

                  

                   b)      To reduce the risk of further appeals for non-determination and further complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.

                  

                   c)      To comply with the findings of the Local Government Ombudsman and prevent a finding of maladministration against the council.

 

                   d)      To ensure that the statutory escalation process to the Secretary of State results in resolution.

 

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Transport, Highways & Environment presented a report which set out the results of a review of the council’s Definitive Map processes undertaken following the decision of the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) on a complaint, and sought approval to make changes required as a result of that review.

 

Following a complaint by a local resident in 2018, the LGO had found that the council was at fault regarding a delay in complying with the Secretary of State’s direction to make a definitive map modification order on an application for a public right of way, as detailed in the LGO decision attached at Annex 1 to the report.  Results of the review of the council’s Definitive Map process, Statement of Priorities and staffing levels and budgets, undertaken in accordance with the agreed actions in that decision, were set out in Annexes 2, 3 and 4 respectively.  It was noted that the Deregulation Act 2015 and the 2026 cut off for certain types of application would increase the demands on the Definitive Map service in the foreseeable future.

 

The options open to Members in response to the review were outlined in paragraphs 16-18 of the report; essentially, these were to support the findings and make the recommended changes in each key area, or to note the findings and make no changes.  The latter was not recommended.

 

Having noted the comments made under Public Participation on this item it was

 

Resolved:  (i)      That the findings of the Review of the Statement of Priorities be supported and that the revised Statement at Annex 6 be adopted, including the requirement to ensure that any direction from the Secretary of State at Defra (SOS) will be dealt with within either 3 months or 12 months, according to the type of direction received.

 

                   (ii)      That an amendment to the current scheme of delegation be authorised so that definitive map modification order applications to make changes to the definitive map and statement will be determined by an Assistant Director or more senior officer with responsibility for the Rights of Way team, in consultation with the Executive Member for Transportand affected ward councillors.

 

                   (iii)     That a report considering the progress of reducing the backlog of definitive map modification order applications be presented to the Executive Member for Transportevery 6 months, with a copy to be sent to the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

                   (iv)    That an apprentice / trainee role for rights of way be developed, to focus initially on definitive map modification order applications, with the cost of  this - £25,000, to be incorporated as unavoidable growth in the 2020/21 budget process for consideration by Full Council when setting the budget for 2020/21.

 

                   (v)     That further resources be kept under review to ensure that the council delivers on its new commitment to deal with SOS directions within either 3 months or 12 months according to the type of direction received.

 

Reasons:   a)      With the aim of eliminating the definitive map modification order backlog in the shortest possible time with the resources available.

                  

                   b)      To reduce the risk of further appeals for non-determination and further complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.

                  

                   c)      To comply with the findings of the Local Government Ombudsman and prevent a finding of maladministration against the council.

 

                   d)      To ensure that the statutory escalation process to the Secretary of State results in resolution.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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