Today was a good day for Bromyard walkers. A work party of five Ramblers and the local parish footpath officer installed a gate to replace two dodgy stiles and some steps up a very steep bank. It was a long day from 10.00 till 5.00 pm and we were all tired by the end but the job was done, and as usual with the Ramblers, it was done well.
But this one day of work was the culmination of more than a year of planning, persuading, cajoling and pleading to get the necessary funding. The need for the job was identified 18 months ago by the local parish footpath officer and by Bromyard Walkers are Welcome. The total cost if done by a contactor would have been over £1,000. If volunteer labour could be used, the cost would be £350. Herefordshire Council has little money for rights of way work. Worse, their contractors Balfour Beatty, are bad at working with volunteers. They will not even obtain landowner consent. It was only through the persistance of Balfour Beatty’s helpful locality steward (there are thankfuly always exceptions!) that funding for the gate was obtained, so £150 was funded with £200 to go. Here the local parish council stepped in, thanks to a new and supporive chairman. The parish council is not the highway authority, and it has no money delegated to it for rights of way works but they wanted to support the efforts of the parish footpath officer and agreed the £200 from their own resources.
So by February 2017, after umpteen meetings, the funding was in place and the materials ordered. Even then there was a long delay with Balfour Beatty’s supplier, and the materials were not delivered till July.
Now we can celebrate – but getting this sort of thing together is hard, hard work. The work on the day is just the tip of the iceberg.