A PLAN to maintain the longest network of public rights pathways in the country in future has been passed.

At Powys County Council’s (PCC) annual meeting on Thursday, May 16, councillors approved the Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) which had been agreed by cabinet back in March.

The ROWIP sets out how the council is to manage and improve the

public rights of way network for the next decade.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies (Conservative – Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant), said: “This is a huge piece of work, we have a statutory duty to review it every 10 years.

“It’s a huge network.”

Cllr Emily Durrant (Green Party- Llangors), said: “I really welcome the renewed focus on volunteers.

“Although I say that with an element of regret and find it sad that austerity has led to  the downward spiral of funding for rights of way volunteers

“The UK is famous for its rights of way and tourists come from all over the world to walk our paths.

“There’s a strong focus on volunteers and I call on everyone in the room and the public to really encourage this as much as possible because this is such an important asset in Powys.

“It’s so advantageous for health and mental health sufferers who find walking in the outdoors hugely restorative.”

Cllr Peter Roberts (Liberal Democrat – Llandrindod South) believed the network should be promoted “more fully” and information placed on the PCC website.

Several councillors also believed that it was important that PCC worked with landowners to ensure accessibility of the paths.

Cllr Jackie Charlton, (Liberal Democrat – Llangattock) added that accessibility would be improved if styles were replaced by gates wherever possible.

Cllr Gwilym Williams, (Conservative – Trecoed and Disserth) added: “I have footpaths go through my property.

“If you go through a gate and there’s a lot of people walking, the first person to get to a gate leaves it open for people 200 yards behind.

“So rather than replace styles with gates, have kissing gates and then that won’t be a problem.”

Head of housing, Nina Davies, replied: “There is digital data available, there is more work to do.

“We do have a couple of guidebooks, accessible trails, accommodation and activities and there’s additional trails on the website.

“Officers  will always try and negotiate gates rather than styles where possible with landowners.”

“Partnership working is key with landowners.”