Cat killed by dogs on Public Footpath through family garden!
We had our precious cat torn apart by some idiots with a pack of hunting dogs. The purpretraitors come in the winter months when the footpaths are dark and quiet. The path goes right through our garden and unfortunatley there is nothing we can do about it. We tried with the Councils PROW Department but have been told if we apply and meet public objection the council wont support our attempt. Why in this day and age should a Public right of way pass through a private garden and why can't dogs be kept on leads in a private garden? I spoke with the Dog warden and there is nothing they can do. We cant have a dog exclusion order like a school does as its private property, (I thought it was a public right of way). How can I tell if the public users are perverts or burglars. we have no privacy, safety or security and no-one wants to listen.
A tiny fraction of a percentage (I guess about 0.1%) of the 140,000 miles of public rights of way go through the gardens of private family homes causing immense stress and hardship to the owners and effectively causing the loss of the normal use of the garden. Children and pets cannot be left alone in the garden and there are obvious security, safety and privacy issues. Lives and homes are being destroyed. Most of us enjoy a walk in the country but are embarrassed if find ourselves in a family home, such RoW are not in the public interest. IF are aware of circa 25 examples of PROWs though gardens and farmyards which have led to bankruptcy, breakdowns and even suicide. These will become more frequent as the population grows. This cannot be in the “public interest”, homeowners with a PROW have no rights and are excluded from the protection of article 8 of the Human Rights Act. In one case a PROW divides a house in two, in another there is a rare example where councillors actually recognising an injustice, wanted to help remove a path via diversion or extinguishment and instructed officers to do so, but in the face of the legislation had to withdraw support. The homeowner is currently facing prosecution for having gates on his property that have been there for 150 years and legal costs. A resident next to a fast and deep river is not allowed a gate to protect young children from the river. An elderly couple on a Taylor Wimpey housing estate have had a path created across their front garden which is now used all day every day and their parked cars are frequently damaged. The owners of an end terrace house in the north have seen their cat killed by walkers’ uncontrolled dogs in front of their three year old child. A second cat was attacked and savaged on a different occasion. An application to extinguish a path used 4 times the previous year resulted in round robin emails and 13 objections so did not progress. None of this is out of the ordinary for homeowners with a footpath through their garden. Believing Britain is a fair country and there must be a solution, homeowners have sometimes spent thousands of pounds they cannot afford on legal fees, only to find a Kafkaesque web of legislation that denies them any justice or humanity. How can the public or walkers justify this intrusion on their fellow citizens even though the law currently permits this. Just look at the survey of experiences to see what is happening in our democratic country.
The only solution is a change in legislation.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the problem:.
Rights of way have their origins in long established historical rights. They were generally paths created for the functional purpose of getting by foot from an outlying house, or hamlet to the village, for school, pub, church, shops etc. or to work on a local farm. They were used mainly by local people and by trades people including the postman. As such they would go from or two the front door of a cottage or to a farmyard. The routes were not intended or suitable for the recreational use they receive today.
Some existing rights of way are extremely intrusive. They pass through family gardens, very close to (in some cases through) family residences , and through working farmyards where they may cause operational difficulties with machinery and livestock and put walkers at risk.
Walkers are often uncomfortable about going close to such buildings, it is a rare person that wants to walk through someone’s private garden close to their house where there is an obvious intrusion on family privacy. Outside the boundary fence or hedge even if close to the house there is not the same sense of intrusion.
Definitive Maps based on paths walked by volunteers with no knowledge of rights of way in 1950 are often inaccurate and survey cards often hold very little information to define the correct route or features on the route..
A welcomed increased interest in walking and keeping fit has caused rights of way that had not previously been used for many years to be walked again, for leisure. However, a small minority of people are looking for previously unwalked rights of way so they can claim them as a matter of principle, rather than for any purpose.
The legal system around rights of way is archaic, imprecise and presumes in favour of the walker with homeowners having few if any rights.
Local councils can be draconian, intractable and heavy handed in their application of these laws. In some cases they seem to be deliberately obfuscating issues and compounding problems.
Previously forgotten/unknown rights of way are being re-instated without regard to changes in land use that may have occurred in the meantime. There are examples of this where defunct rights of way have been built over, with full searches performed and planning permission granted, only for councils to mandate that the dwelling should be pulled down many years later when the rights of way are re-discovered.
Contested requests to change or close a right of way are seldom successful because the homeowner has no rights in law.
There is a belief that some are happy to perpetuate that it is easy to divert a PROW. There is a mechanism to do so but unless you own sufficient land to divert on to and all users agree that the new route is an improvement (quite a task) it can be very difficult to achieve.
Whilst nobody is suggesting wholesale extinguishments take place it is obvious that with 140,000 miles of paths in England in Wales based on activity hundreds of years ago, they cannot all be in the right place for modern use of the land. Section 118 of the Highways Act allows for extinguishments. However extinguishments are like hen’s teeth. This part of the legislation does not work.
The law is such an arcane muddle that homeowners seeking legal advice can run up substantial legal fees before they realise that actually there is little or no help available and justice is unaffordable.
Judge at war with village for 'blocking' footpath next to his £1m mansion
Daily Mail, 5th December 2011
After decades handling civil cases as a district judge, David Joslin should know all about the pitfalls of obstructing public rights of way. Yet he is facing an expensive court appearance after he was accused of building a wall across a footpath running alongside his million-pound home. People living in the picturesque village of Nazeing, Essex, were outraged when the wall went up attached to an 8ft-high electric gate...read more
It's the third point on the list that is interesting to us here. For all rights of way put in place after 2000, none can run within 20 metres of a dwelling. This is a good thing because to place a right of way any closer to a home would risk compromising homeowners' privacy and security, as well as the market value of their house. In fact, we believe this is such a good thing that we would like to see it instated as a condition for all footpaths, crucially those that were created before 2000. This is what our campaign is all about: one small change to the law, which would see a large change across the country. Currently, this insufficiency in British law has allowed countless footpaths to run too close to many homes and in the worst cases, directly through them. The Government already acknowledges that rights of way shouldn't come any closer than 20 metres to a dwelling, now it's simply a matter of encouraging them to act on this acknowledgement.
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