Local News

Local walking routes set to improve across the county

26 Mar 2024
Steff looking at map of walking routes

Steffan Aquarone, County Councillor for Melton Constable and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk, said he was inspired to help make it easier to establish circular walks following a letter he received during Covid lockdown from a group of young people in Melton Constable.

“These young people wrote to me to tell me how frustrated they were with the lack of local footpaths. Melton Constable is a fantastic village in the heart of our rural community, with allotments, play equipment, shops, food and drinks outlets.  But like so many villages it lacks circular walks that residents can enjoy safely, away from the risks of rural roads.

“But it’s not for lack of potential. Often there are just one or two things stopping a circular walk from being possible: it might be a broken asset, an unmaintained footpath, or just a short stretch that needs a negotiated agreement with a landowner.”

In 2021 Steff started consulting with parishes, landowners, and other organisations, and realised that all the pieces needed to make it easier for communities to establish circular routes existed – they just weren’t gathered together in the same place.

“There is a common desire to work together to improve local access. I've also seen evidence of 'best practice' right through the process, from the way people have approached auditing the current paths and blockages, to legal agreements for permissive access that could be turned into templates, to some brilliant leaflets promoting walking routes. I also learned from stewardship organisations how important it is to let people know how to access the countryside responsibly and safely.

“I’m delighted that Norfolk County Council has agreed to update its already extensive guidance on permissive paths into a more practical toolkit that can help communities identify, improve, and publicise local footpaths.  

“I will continue to work with the County Council, NFU, Countryside Alliance, Country Landowners Association, and Ramblers, to produce something that works for landowners, communities, and our natural environment.

“It’s my hope that now this motion has been approved, this toolkit will soon be made available to villages across the country.”

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