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Work continuing to open up public Rights of Way

Work to make more than 600km of public rights of way accessible is continuing across Bridgend County Borough after footfall tripled during the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the last year, people have rediscovered what is on their doorstep, walking more and exercising locally on some of the area’s 800 individual rights of way – 15 per cent of which is public bridleway.

Footfall indicators installed on walking routes across the county borough suggest that three times as many people are now using the local rights of way network, with some of the more popular routes seeing a seven-time increase in walkers.

The council is carrying out work to ensure that all 613.72km of the public rights of way network is accessible and of a satisfactory standard after a survey completed last year in preparation for the review of the Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan revealed that 69.5 per cent of paths were classed as being available for use.

The Rights of Way team is working closely with landowners to resolve outstanding issues and to reopen routes as quickly as possible by repairing damaged structures and removing vegetation.

Where possible the council considers accessibility for people with mobility issues, when replacing structures or improving surfaces. This has included replacing stiles with kissing gates and making surface improvements that are funded using internal capital funding and grants from Welsh Government and organisations such as the Ramblers.

It’s great to see so many people enjoying and exploring the beautiful places that we have in the county borough. As more people use local footpaths, more maintenance issues are being reported, and we are in the process of addressing these as quickly as possible.

We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people of the Countryside Code. This allows people to enjoy the health and wellbeing that nature offers, while giving it the respect it deserves.

Gates and property should always be left as found, and people should leave no trace of their visit by taking litter home and disposing with dog fouling responsibly. No open fire should be lit either, and care must always be taken if using a barbeque.

Councillor Stuart Baldwin, Cabinet Member for Communities

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