Barmouth Bridge - No Pedestrians?

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by Envoy, 12 Aug 2015.

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  1. Envoy

    Envoy Established Member

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    Double posting - no delete button.

    Unfortunately, I double posted and saw no facility to delete. The moderating team have now deleted the version of the double post where I had already removed the content. I will now briefly say the content again.

    ITV Wales are reporting that Network Rail are demanding £30,000 per year from the Council in order to maintain Barmouth Bridge public footway.

    QUOTE:> "Locals in Barmouth say the closure of a 900m railway bridge would impact tourism in north Wales.

    The distinctive Barmouth Bridge, that's been used for 150 years, faces being closed to walkers because of council cuts, forcing people to travel an extra eighteen miles around.

    The local council says it cannot afford to pay Network Rail more than £30,000 a year for the right of way".

    http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2015-08-12/locals-fear-over-barmouth-bridge-closure/
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2015
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  3. robschopper

    robschopper Member

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    Now, I could save myself several minutes typing by pointing out that this story is on ITV News and in the Daily Mail. Enough said!

    The fact is that Gwynedd Council are 'consulting the public' on ways to save £9 million off their budget. They already pay the £30,000 to Network Rail, and the proposal is to stop paying that. That doesn't mean the bridge would shut to walkers, especially as it's part of the Coastal Path. No-one from Network Rail has commented and who's to say they wouldn't absorb the loss of this money . . the PR alone would be worth the amount.

    Note also, that Gwynedd Council are also proposing to shut down all Leisure Services and Tourism Marketing in the County. So, all Leisure Centres and no marketing of tourism in one of the main tourist areas of the UK. Not gonna happen!

    This is the annual 'woe is us, our budgets are cut by central government, we'll all be destitute' moan.

    Sleep well, worry not, it'll all work out in the end .... and you'll still be walking Barmouth bridge when you're 90!
     
  4. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    A very solid way of making relatively minor cuts without moaning is to propose very major cuts and back them off somewhat after "protest" from locals. I suspect this is what may happen here, e.g. could a toll be chargeable? (It's shown on maps as a toll bridge)
     
  5. robschopper

    robschopper Member

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    A toll was charged up until a couple of years ago - 60p for pedestrians. This stopped when the family who ran the toll booth moved away and Gwynedd Council couldn't get anyone else to do it.

    If they made an effort and employed someone else to take the tolls, I'm sure no-one would mind paying the tolls again, and the amount taken would more than cover their costs, and the payment to Network Rail.
     
  6. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    £30k to Network Rail plus, say, £20k in salary and related costs (employer NI and pension contributions, etc) and another 5k in overheads. Does the bridge see more than 250 visitors a day paying the 60p toll, which will eh required to break even?

    This aside, is it even legitimate to impose a toll on a recognized public footpath? And if the council stopped paying, I assume Network Rail still have to maintain access?
     
  7. robschopper

    robschopper Member

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    Last toll for adult pedestrians was, apparently 90p (correct as of June 2013). Daily Mail quote (so it must be true) 100,000 people a year using Mawddach Trail and the bridge (I would suggest this is bridge use, rather than the full, nine mile, Mawddach Trail).

    So, up to £90,000 in revenue, won't be far off break even.
     
  8. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    With my 4x4 Club RoW Officers hat on.
    It isn't a "Public Right of Way", as in a footpath or bridleway, but a "Permissive Path", owned by a third party (Network Rail) who "allow" access, in this case at a cost, to the County Council that oversees the right of way (Note; no capitals, as there is a difference).

    Currently the path on the bridge is part of the Welsh Coastal Path and any diversion would entail a long diversion up to the next toll bridge at Penmaenpool.

    As has been said it is all a bit of a non-story at the moment.
     
  9. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Is it a public footpath? The OS map does not show it as such.
     
  10. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    No Neil, it is not.
    Since my last posting I have checked my sources for this area, and can confirm that it is a "Permissive Path".
    It is an "Other Route with Public Access". Note the term "access".
    It is not shown on the Definitive Map as a legal Right of Way.
     
  11. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    OS maps are not the definitive source regarding the public rights of way.
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I'm aware of that, but they certainly give an indication. However, another poster seems certain it is not a public right of way.
     
  13. crispy1978

    crispy1978 Member

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    If the pedestrian element was removed would that just not simply encourage trespass on the rail line, especially given there isn't a viable alternative route via foot?

    Meaning therefore, it would be in the interest of NR/ATW to keep the path open?
     
  14. Aldaniti

    Aldaniti Member

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    Not for the first time, Network Rail seem to want to trash their reputation for a relatively trifling amount. Sometimes these highly paid executives - who would flee the country to other higher paid jobs if we didn't keep them in the salaries and bonuses they have become accustomed - just can't see the bigger picture. An opportunity to come up with a solution, instead of creating a negative headline story, completely lost. :roll:
     
  15. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I have wondered how much of a trespass problem there is between Arnside and Grange, though that of course hasn't had a footbridge there already.
     
  16. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    Allow me to put my former local authority planning policy hat on.

    The local authority map is not as definitive as the name suggests. Local authorities have been legally obliged to record rights of way on the definitive map since 1949. This process is not complete, however, and many rights of way are still not formally recorded. I would estimate 10% of rights of way are still not listed on the definitive map. Under the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act, there is a cut off point of 2026 to get paths which have been in use before 1949 listed on the definitive map.

    The 1980 Highways Act allows for the presumed dedication of a right of way provided it has had uninterrupted use over a period of 20 years (presumed dedication can also happen under common law... but let's not complicate things too much). However, this presumption can be overridden if the landowner never intended for it to be right of way. This might be evidenced by the land owner physically interrupting the right of way (installing fences, walls, etc) or with signs at the location explicitly stating the path was private property and not for public use. A statutory declaration stating the path is not intended to be a right of way can also be made with the local authority concerned

    So regarding the status of the bridge as a right of way two questions need to be asked:

    1. Has the public been able to access the path across the bridge for an uninterrupted period of 20 years? Given the bridge has been in situ since the 19th century I'm guessing the answer to this question is probably yes.

    2. Has the landowner (i.e. Network Rail) made it clear they do not intend it to be a right of way? Here things get a bit murky. The bridge is obviously private property, but this alone does not prevent right of way access. There may well be signs at the location stating it is private property and not a right of way. Network Rail many well have made a statutory declaration to the local council. This might go someway to make the case it is not a right of way. However it could be argued this is contradicted by the active encouragement of pedestrians to use the bridge (albeit upon payment of a small toll) and its more recent explicit inclusion on the Welsh Coastal Path.

    It is up to the local authority to decide this, although the landowner would have right of appeal to the courts if it were unhappy with the decision.

    Regarding the costs to the local council: It is landowners who are responsible for the maintenance of rights of way to ensure they are visible, safe and accessible. However, landowners are able to claim 25% of the costs of structural features to maintain access (although many councils until recently funded 100% of the cost). This usually applies to stiles and gates, but I guess it might also apply to a foot bridge (albeit a rather large one).

    Given this, and the fact the bridge exists and Network Rail have to maintain it regardless, it might actually be in their interest to make sure it is listed on the definitive map as a right of way. That way they would legitimately be able to claim some of the costs towards it's maintenance and the council would have to pay (although if they want £30,000 per annum towards the cost of the bridge they would need to demonstrate that the footpath part of it costs £120,000 a year to maintain). I'm guessing the current arrangement is voluntary on the part of the council?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    As I've just described, there is no such thing as certainty when it comes to public rights of way until either a court has made a judgement to that effect, or until the 2026 cut off is reached for additions to the definitive map of paths with access prior to 1949.
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2015
  17. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Read beyond post #1 and you will note that Gwynedd not NR are the prime movers here. Have they even talked to NR I wonder?
     
  18. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    I doubt very much if NR would actually remove the walkway if they didn't get the 30k per annum. I suspect they find it useful for access for inspection and maintenance. On the rail side of the fence, clearance looks rather limited.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It's also part of National Cycle Route 8, Cardiff to Holyhead.
     
  19. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    Have you bothered to read the article? Obviously not!!

    Perhaps your obvious hatred of Network Rail has tainted your views.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I have to say from experience that Gwynedd CC RoW Dept are very good and their Definitive map is excellent and very up to date. Certainly much better than Powys and Ceredigion!
    As stated the path on the bridge is recorded as an ORPA and is actually on the List of Streets, which is held by their Highways Dept.

    Over the last 20 years there has NOT had continuous public access. The bridge has been closed, at one time quite regularly. It may also closed when there is a weather warning for that area. The closures used to be done at the gate where the tolls were collected.

    There used to be signs stating that it was not a "Public Right of Way" but whether these still exist I do not know.
     
  20. Aldaniti

    Aldaniti Member

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    No, I must confess that I only read the first post over lunch, my apologies for that. But it still seems to be an ideal opportunity for Network Rail to get some good PR for a modest amount.

    I knew I should have kept out of Welsh affairs....:lol:
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2015
  21. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    That could still change though. If anyone were minded to make a case that the bridge constitutes a right of way they have until 1st January 2026!

    If there's information held by the council highways department then it sounds like a statutory declaration might have been made. This could still be contested, however, and a decision would need to be made based on all the evidence presented.

    I should have been clearer. It is not over the last 20 years, but a 20 year period. When the 20 year uninterrupted access was is irrelevant. This is calculated by taking the point at which an interruption started and counting backwards.

    A closure would have to be for a substantive period of time. For example a simple overnight closure for routine maintenance wouldn't count, nor would the odd weather warning. If we're talking several days at a time with physical barriers in place to prevent access then that's a different matter.

    Interesting. The signs would have to explicitly say "no public right of way" or "no public access" or similar. However, if these signs were actively removed by the landowner then it could be argued this is evidence of presumed dedication. Their inaction to replace them might also count as evidence to that effect.
     
  22. Oxfordblues

    Oxfordblues Member

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    Worth noting also that the bridge forms part of Sustrans Trunk Route 8 Cardiff-Holyhead and so is of national strategic importance, at least for long-distance cyclists. As it effectively links the capitals of Wales and Ireland perhaps the Welsh Assembly (and even the Irish Government!) could be asked to contribute.
     
  23. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    crehld,
    I shall make further inquiries.
    I have "contacts"!!

    TODAY.
    My contact believes a Statutory Declaration was made in the past.
    And there is supposedly a very old cast iron sign on the south side of the bridge, possibly ex-GWR.

    He also says that this is the CC "trying it on" because of the savings they have to make this year and a very non-story really.
     
    Last edited: 13 Aug 2015
  24. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I think it may well come down to court action to establish if there is a public right of way over the bridge or not. It's a very arguable case form both perspectives, in my opinion. Unless of course, NR agrees that it is!

    The main point is that a right of way can be created without it being recorded anywhere.
     
  25. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    It would be very unlikely to be a Court action.
    Most RoW legal "alterations" I have been involved have only ended up in a Public Enquiry after very long (and acrimonious) meetings.
    There are certain "Associations" that can become very active if they think they might be hard-done-by!
    As has been said this is very much a "silly season" story.
     
  26. lejog

    lejog Established Member

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    The 20yr rule relating to creation of a RoW does not apply if either of the conditions stated by Llanigraham apply.

    - there is a sign stating that it is landowners intention not to dedicate the path as a RoW
    - or the landowner has lodged a statutory declaration with the council to the same effect.

    There are other conditions that may stop the creation of a RoW. for instance interrupting the access (some landowners close a path for a day or year) or even gating the path has been interpreted by the courts as showing intent not to dedicate a RoW.

    Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Indeed, first of all it is the Council's Highways Authority responsibility to assess whether a path meets the legal criteria of the Highways Act to declare the path a RoW (and they are likely to find themselves in a real mess if they do so when a valid statutory declaration has been made to them).

    Then its an appeal to the Secretary of State, only then is court action applicable if you wish to take on the government.
     
  27. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    Indeed (although we are referring to dedication under the 1980 Highways Act here and not considering possible claims which could be made under common law). In the case of the sign, however, when it was erected, by who and how (or if) it has been maintained are relevant questions. As I mentioned all of the landowner's actions or inaction become evidence, and they may conflict (for example having a sign saying no right of way, yet actively encouraging its use as a right of way). All of this evidence would be subject to review by the council and, if the landowner objects, the relevant appeal bodies (a court or the secretary of state).

    This is also true to some extent. Importantly it has to be shown that the underlying motivation for interrupting access is to make it clear there is no intention for it to become a right of way. That's why I said just closing the path for the odd day or two for maintenance or because of a weather warning wouldn't count.

    Of course all of the scenarios being presented here for rights of way created by 'presumed dedication' under the 20 year rule. A right of way could be established through a public path order (subject to the usual appeal channels of course). This would override any actions or inaction the landowner took to ensure it could not become a right of way under presumed dedication.

    As Llanigraham indicates however, the council might be reluctant to do this given they would then become liable for costs towards its maintenance. Indeed given the sum of money involved we might find ourselves in the unusual situation where the landowner in this case actually wants a right of way to be created and the local council does not!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Incidentally the case for issuing a public path creation order over the bridge is incredibly compelling!
     
    Last edited: 13 Aug 2015
  28. 185

    185 Established Member

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    Shame the council can't build a light 150m footbridge over to South Bank - by the Fairbourne Railway terminus. Would have to be high enough/engineered for higher sailing vessels to pass under. Probably need two concrete piers sunk into the riverbed.
     
  29. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    In the past we have used Railway and Canal Acts to prove vehicular RoW's against certain intransigent County Councils!
     
  30. snowball

    snowball Established Member

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    Pont Briwet has been a somewhat discouraging recent experience.
     
  31. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I did say 'may'! There are lots of possible outcomes, but the crux of the matter is that in the absence of any agreement between parties as to whether a right of way exists, a judgement on the matter can only be made by a court of law, which will consider all of the evidence put before it.

    It may be a last resort, in fact it should be, it may be unlikely, but it's definitely possible.

    Quite. The point is that objections and disagreement over the interpretation of evidence can occur and would need to be dealt with.

    I agree with your analysis, which accords with my own knowledge and experience of rights of way.

    It would be much better, naturally, if disputes between parties can be avoided, and things can be settled more or less amicably by way of agreements. But it does need to be recognised that this isn't always going to be the case
     
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