Complaints about public rights of way

How to report a problem with a public right of way, how improvements are made, ploughing over rights of way, permissive paths, encountering livestock and how well the rights of way service perform.

How can I report an issue on a public right of way?

Types of issues

Summer work includes:

  • cutting back overgrown priority routes

Winter work includes:

  • structural repairs 
  • improvements to gates, bridges and path surfaces 
  • signposting and way-marking work. 

As our work is seasonal you may find that your issue might not be resolved for several months. Please be patient as we do try to resolve all the problems reported to us.

Reporting an issue

Before you report the issue online, it would help if you had:

  • specific location details
  • a photograph of the problem (optional) 

Report an issue with a public right of way

What happens next:

All reported issues are assessed and handled by a Public Rights of Way officer and are prioritised based on the importance of the issue and of the route itself. 

We will only contact you if we need further information.

How well do the rights of way service perform?

The countryside access team have achieved Customer Service Excellence status. We have developed a customer charter in consultation with the Public Rights of Way Joint Liaison Group and the Local Access Forum.

A copy of the customer charter is available below:

Customer Charter (pdf 76kb)

There is a statutory duty on East Riding of Yorkshire Council to look after the public rights of way network. With such an extensive network across a large geographical area carrying out this duty causes some logistical problems and it is not always possible to keep all rights of way open. We are proud of the work that we do and we believe that we compare favourably with all other councils who have a similar duty to keep the network open. We believe that it is important not only that we measure what we do, but that the public can openly compare our performance each year. With the help of our rights of way liaison group, and the Local Access Forum we have devised a set of key performance measures.

The key indicators are:

  • Best Value Performance Indicator 178: (removed as a national indicator but remains as a local one) the percentage of the network is open and available for the public to use
  • the percentage of the network that is free of stiles
  • the percentage of the network that are signed where they leave a metalled road.
Measure Target 2014/15 Performance 2015/16 Performance 2016/17 Performance 2017/18 Performance 2018/19 Performance
 % of routes open and available for use 75% 51% 50% 76% 64% 70%
 % of routes that are stile free (by 2020) 95% 65% 65% 89% 96% 93%
% of routes that are signed where they leave a metalled road 80% 82% 83% 88% 82% 92%

How are improvements made to the public rights of way network?

Every local highway authority has had to prepare and publish a Rights of Way Improvement Plan. It is a strategic document that sets out how the council will improve the public rights of way network and was accomplished through consultation with local residents and interest groups. There is also background information that supports this plan which is complemented by the contents of the Local Transport Plan.

Rights of Way Improvement Plan (pdf 3mb)

Rights of Way Improvement Plan background information (pdf 669kb)

A range of other policy and strategy documents is also published by the department, some of which are chargeable and may be of interest

Price list of published policy and strategy documents (pdf 104kb)

Can a farmer plough over a right of way?

Farmers and landowners can only plough cross-field footpaths and bridleways where it cannot be avoided. It is a legal requirement that these paths are reinstated by making sure it is reasonably convenient to use, and clearly marked on the ground within 14 days of ploughing.

Any subsequent disturbance of the same path, such as harrowing, should be reinstated within 24 hours.

It is not permissible to plough:

  • any field-edge right of way
  • restricted byway
  • any Byway Open To All Traffic (BOAT).

The Rights of Way Act 1990 sets out legal widths for the reinstatement of public rights of way after ploughing or sowing crops.

Paths that have been disturbed should be reinstated to a minimum width of:

  • 1.0 metre for a crossfield footpath 
  • 2.0 metres for a crossfield bridleway.

Farmers are not permitted to plough field edge paths and the minimum widths that should be left undisturbed are:

  • 1.5 metres for a field edge footpath
  • 3.0 metres for a field edge bridleway.

What is a permissive path?

A permissive path, sometimes called a 'concessionary path', is when the landowner allows the public to use a route, with the clear intention that it should not become a public right of way.

The landowner may erect notices to that effect and, perhaps, close the path once a year. These often supplement the rights of way network at a local level and provide solutions for landowners to problems they face with trespass.

Will I encounter livestock when using rights of way?

Yes. Livestock can be kept in fields crossed by rights of way. Bulls over the age of 10 months are prohibited from being kept in a field crossed by a public right of way on their own.

Cows or heifers may accompany beef bulls, but dairy breed bulls are not permitted, even when accompanied by other cattle.

Sometimes you will hear about incidents involving walkers and cattle. Please consider your own safety when walking through fields containing cattle. They are normally well-behaved but do not respond well to dogs, particularly when calves are present.

You may take your dog with you on a public right of way, provided that it is kept under close control and remains on the path and does not "worry" livestock. When walking through a field with sheep then you must keep the dog(s) on a lead. When walking in a field with cows and calves please be conscious of the behaviour of the cows, and release your dog from the lead if approached. Always try and look out for a safe exit point in case you are approached by aggressive farm animals.

How do I contact a PROW officer?

This is the Area Officers map which helps customers find the right person to speak to:

Public Rights of Way - Area Officers (pdf 3.1mb)

Stay connected

Sign up for the latest news and updates from East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

We will use GovDelivery to send you emails, it is secure and you can choose to stop receiving emails at any time. Find out more in our Privacy notice.