Maintenance of 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.

Who looks after public rights of way in the East Riding?

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is responsible for the management of all recorded public rights of way within the administrative boundary.

Many public rights of way run across privately owned land and the responsibility for looking after rights of way rest with the council although the landowner or farmer has obligations as well.

A small group of routes are not recorded on the list of streets that are maintained by the council, by virtue of the way in which they were dedicated as highways. These routes are treated slightly differently in maintenance terms.

We are responsible for:

  • Signposting rights of way where they leave the road
  • Waymarking paths along their route where necessary
  • Keeping rights of way in reasonable repair and clearing surface vegetation
  • Ensuring that they are free from obstructions
  • Ensuring that farmers and landowners reinstate rights of way after ploughing or cropping
  • Helping farmers and landowners to maintain gates in good condition
  • Maintaining the definitive map and statement, which is the legal record of public rights of way
  • Consideration of applications for the legal diversion of public rights of way
  • Considering applications to modify the definitive map.

Landowners and farmers are responsible for:

  • keeping all paths free from obstruction
  • cutting back overhanging vegetation
  • reinstatement of paths after ploughing and keeping them clear of growing crops
  • maintaining gates and stiles
  • not ploughing paths that run along a field edge.

What should you expect on your countryside walk?

When walking (or cycling or horse riding on bridleways) in the countryside you should expect that:

  • the route is signed with a signpost, and waymarked along the route if it is difficult to follow
  • the path surface, normally grass, is reasonable for the enjoyment of the path, taking into account the location and priority of the path
  • any structures such as gates, bridges, or steps are safe and fit for purpose.

It is normal to find undulations, uneven ground, and holes in the surface of these natural paths, and users should take care and follow the countryside code. If you find that things are wrong with the path that clearly require attention then you should let us know online.

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.

Report an issue

What happens next:

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 has achieved Customer Service Excellence status.

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 the Public Rights Of Way subgroup of 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 (surfaced) road.


Measure Target 2017/18 Performance 2018/19 Performance 2019/20 Performance 2020/21 Performance 2021/22 Performance
% of routes open and available for use 75% 64% 70% 73% 78% 82%
% of routes that are stile free (by 2020) 95% 96% 93% 93% 96% 96%
% of routes that are signed where they leave a metalled road 90% 82% 92% 85% 78% 85%

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)

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)

Rights of Way Improvement Plan update

The Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) is a strategy document setting out the overall direction of travel and aims for the development of the public rights of way network. We reassess the plan every 10 years and refresh it if necessary.

We are currently updating the ROWIP to reflect important changes in the benefits that our countryside paths provide, for example the health and well being, active travel, leisure and recreation and the social and economic value that the network provides.

Here is the draft consultation version of the ROWIP:

Draft Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2022-2032 (pdf 3.2mb)

You can have your say via the consultation pages on our website:

Have your say on the ROWIP

or by emailing by 31 March 2022.

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)

Is there any planning guidance available for developers?

Yes. Should you need to consider the impact that development might have on the public rights of way network then this guidance document should be read prior to submitting a planning application.

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