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Bleadon PROW Maintenance Questions Plus

Posted on 28th September, 2014

Allotment and PROW maintenance Questions plus...


The following email correspondence copied below is very long and possibly difficult to follow so you don't have to read on any further than you want. But BOB wants to be transparent and after people originally asked me who is responsible for maintaining our footpaths, I have been trying to get basic answers from the PC on our footpaths (as part of a project to improve access to footpath information) and also as to why BPC BROW Group appears to be doing North Somerset (Highway Authority) and Landowner/Occupiers work for them for free and it's not proving easy to get those answers.......... Link to 'our' PROWs



To: CC:;;;;;;;


Subject: RE: Footpath Questions BVN Reply Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2014 16:18:32 +0100


Dear Chris

I will not begin to attempt to answer your somewhat fatuous comments.


What I suggest you do is to set out all the questions you yourself currently consider have not been answered and I will see that the Parish Council in due course attempts to answer where it is able.


No doubt you will advise those residents that you purport to represent that they are more than welcome to attend a Parish Council Meeting at any time to ask questions subject of course to the Parish Council’s Standing Orders.


This is what Bleadon Parish Council encourages as part it responsibility to good governance transparency and of course local democracy.


Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC Bleadon Parish Council Clerk to the Parish Rooftops 10 South Street Burnham-on-Sea Somerset TA8 1BS Tel: 07887802922 E-Mail: Web Site:


From: Bleadon BOB [] Sent: 08 September 2014 15:48


To: Bruce Poole Cc: Bruce Poole; Clive Morris; Ian Findlay; ID Clarke; Keith Pyke; Miles Orme; Rob House; Steve Hartree

Subject: RE: Footpath Questions BVN Reply


Dear Bruce,

Are you seriously suggesting that one person cannot represent and write on behalf of one, two, or a group of people?


Will all groups/organisations writing to the parish council be ignored unless their members, or like minded concerned people, write to you individually? How ridiculous! What has happened to democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of information?


Following your suggestion should all groups be abolished including the parish council? We have tried asking questions as individuals and as a group but neither approach seems to work. That is why so many people have given up and why they now turn to BOB.


Some of our unanswered questions are months old, some are years old. (You may delete your emails after a week but we do not).


It appears this is progressing towards submitting FOI requests, considering referring these matters to the financial ombudsman and/or submitting a request for a Community Governance Review in order to get accurate timely replies.


Please, just answer the questions. Documentation from the parish council and the BVN implies you have some information to hand, why can't you just allow the public to see it?


Kind regards,

Chris Butler email: website




To: CC:;;;;;;;


Subject: RE: Footpath Questions BVN Reply Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2014 10:27:44 +0100


Dear Chris 

Since when have you taken on the role of representing villagers views. The correct procedure for residents is for them to either attend a Parish Council Meeting in order to address the members directly or for them to advise me in writing of their concerns.


Either approach will receive a response. I shall be suggesting to the members at this evening’s meeting that they in future only answer questions raised by individual residents including yourself.


So might I suggest that you re-address any questions that you might have solely in your own name and ask any of your fellow travellers that they do likewise.That way the Parish Council will be better able to what level of concern is actually out there and can also be brought to task if they fail to answer them.


No doubt you will post my response on Bleadon Bob in order for your readers can be fully aware of the Parish Council’s position.


Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC Bleadon Parish Council Clerk to the Parish Rooftops 10 South Street Burnham-on-Sea Somerset TA8 1BS Tel: 07887802922 E-Mail: Web Site:


From: Bleadon BOB [] Sent: 08 September 2014 09:56

To: Bruce Poole Cc: Bruce Poole; Clive Morris; ID Clarke; Keith Pyke; Miles Orme; Rob House; Steve Hartree; Ian Findlay

Subject: RE: Footpath Questions BVN R


Dear Bruce, 

It appears yet again that you have spent your valuable time and effort writing an email that doesn't answer the questions I sent.


Please remember that the questions I write come from the villagers of Bleadon who are exasperated with the lack of information from the Parish Council with few, if any, adequate answers.


We really don't think that the questions being asked are difficult as some of them are quite basic.


The general feeling is that either you and/or 'our' councillors know the answers to the questions but are unwilling to share the information publicly, which surely doesn't meet best practice, or the actions of a quality council, of open communication with the public; OR you/they don't know the answers which again, if money is being spent on things, is not in the public benefit.


BOB's readers wait to hear answers on the PROW's as originally requested, some seen below, and I hope to send correspondence out to them in the near future with an update from you or the PC.


I would also like to bring to the councillors attention additional questions that were raised to BOB during the Summer Show just this weekend including: 

  • Is the PC following the process for electing Ian's replacement?
  • Why didn't the quality PC, and fully qualified clerk know Ian couldn't do both jobs?
  • How can the parish clerk work for four parishes at the same time?; What is this about a pension in the parish accounts?
  • Does the Parish Council still pay for internet connectivity at the village cafe as the computer is always off? (the password is apparently unknown).
  • Why is are the IT costs so high but access and information so poor?
  • Do we know what the parish council are working on? (i.e. whats the parish plan).

Again all valid questions from your electorate some of which should be easily available on the parish website.


In reply to your specific email comments:


There is no criticism (veiled or otherwise) of BROW volunteers (nor ever has there been in fact I complimented them as minuted in a PC meeting), I only have concern for their welfare and third parties, and more broadly protection of the public purse.


Surely, I/the public are best judge to decide whether the entirely valid questions have been fully answered, that's why I continue to ask, especially as information appears contradictory.


Of course the limited allotment users are happy with the new surface, they (and few other field access users) caused the surface damage and haven't paid for it's repair!


But it's the wider Bleadon footpath maintenance that I am simply trying to gather basic facts on. 

  • So who owns/occupies them please, then we know who is responsible (and pay's) for the facets of maintenance?

The reason I am corresponding with you (BPC) about footpaths (after speaking to North Somerset) is that BPC seems to have chosen to undertake responsibilities and costs thereof that would appear are not theirs to solely incur.


I am merely seeking specific facts about 'our' footpath ownership to determine whether this is the case and for future reference. So far the limited answers I have received including this one, would seem to support my concern.


As it would appear the simple basic accounting facts of asset (path) ownership and maintenance responsibilities do not yet exist in BPC business systems, or do they?


If you do not have time to reply to the public's valid questions, can I perhaps politely suggest that the clerk's workload of also servicing the needs of other councils, seemingly during the same hours as BPC, is perhaps too much to undertake adequately given the increased and growing expectations of the Bleadon electorate of it's elected or co-opted members and employed staff?


Therefore a management review is suggested perhaps with a time study to identify and assist our councillors in managing your extremely busy workload.


I will of course continue to contact the highway authority regarding footpath maintenance (as that's their statutory responsibility) but that will not negate the need for BPC to be answerable to it's electorate for all expenditure it incurs.


However, my questions arising that are specific to BPC about minuted expenditure, allotment terms, land ownership & BROW workload will of course not be relevant to NS unless you would wish me to raise these related financial issues and community information governance to a higher level of authority or ombudsman?


From your response I am pleased to hear that our enquiries have highlighted possible expenditure that was perhaps not BPC responsibility and BPC are disturbed over this, I sincerely hope that this process has enlightened BPC to strive to improve future public information and accountability to ensure no work is undertaken that is not their specific statutory duty without proper consideration of resources and if necessary public consultation for provision to do so.


As regards BOB, if my website 'blog's have ever been incorrect, no-one from BPC has ever informed me of such fact and of course, in the future I would be very happy to post any necessary correction and apology should that ever be the case. If you could please supply me with the necessary facts I will do so as soon as possible. Will BVN also do this?


Finally, I hope BPC do not think that my blogs are me solely 'voicing' my concerns, as I act as a medium or conduit for many others. It is worth noting that I put 'pen to paper' on behalf of many residents who share their concerns to me through various forums and communication methods but unfortunately feel through failed past attempts over many, many years that BPC is totally unapproachable and unyielding to bother to continue to do it themselves directly and have regrettably given up trying, to be fair like with most government bodies!


So the perseverance and success of the group to preserve Bleadon's green spaces against the Solar Farm proposal is very encouraging for future local democracy.


That is why BOB has been so enthusiastically supported in the community and if 'edgy' at times, at least it is a current online source of relevant accessible information and opinion about Bleadon Community and it's challenges, including it's Parish Council.


Kind regards,

Chris Butler email: website



To: CC:;;;;;;;

Subject: RE: Footpath Questions BVN Reply Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2014 09:44:42 +0100


Dear Chris

In actual fact I was not aware that the article on this matter was going to be published until I received a copy of it myself.


When the matter of your correspondence was discussed the general opinion by my members was that the article fully answered the points raised by you.


They also suggested that because I am often faced with fairly lengthy correspondence from you that in effect takes up an inordinate amount of my time that in future with respect to footpath matters within the village that you direct your questions to the appropriate officers in North Somerset District Council.


My members were certainly not happy with the veiled criticism that you made against the volunteering that is achieved by a number of Bleadon residents.


They were also disturbed by the fact that you thought that the Parish Council was spending money outside its remit.


The allotment holders are certainly most appreciative of the new surface that has now been put into place.


I will of course bring your latest missive to the attention of the Parish Council in order to ascertain whether or not they wish for me to reply.


As you know whilst the Parish Council has editorial rights to the Village News it does allow latitude to the editor to express his own views and where on the occasions that he does so he alludes to the fact that it his own opinion.


Might I add the Parish Council has on occasions been critical of certain material set out on your Website Blog especially when it has been either incorrect and indeed personal. However it is readily recognised that you are free to say whatever you wish without it necessarily being accurate or indeed correct.


Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC Bleadon Parish Council Clerk to the Parish Rooftops 10 South Street Burnham-on-Sea Somerset TA8 1BS Tel: 07887802922 E-Mail: Web Site:


From: Bleadon BOB [] Sent: 05 September 2014 09:26

To: Bruce Poole

Subject: Footpath Questions BVN Reply


Dear Bruce,

I still haven't received your reply on my footpath questions but, having recently read the latest copy (#99) of Bleadon Village News, can I assume that your intended response to me has now been published publicly by the BVN editor?


If so I find it very hard to understand that was your intention given that, as you know, I have not even received the 'official' Parish Council reply myself yet!


Moreover, while the article was informative to the layperson, I am disappointed that the published material does not fully explain my questions, so BVN readers are not aware of the full context of my original and recent email's concern over proper cost accountability for ALL PROW maintenance work by BROW, not just the allotment work that merely highlighted the issue.


Even worse the BVN article edited certain of my questions to reply generally (when I was/am seeking specific answers), ignored others and even added questions that I did not even ask for but the article suggests I did.


The BVN includes some questions previously posed to BPC but answers are contradictory and still not yet clear:


June minutes & July agenda have allotment related expenditure items totaling nearly £1,000 not £700 as indicated in the BPN Footpath article, which is correct? 

  • From BPC financial reports it's difficult to work out specific income/expenditure items. So, is all allotment expenditure reclaimed through allotment rents to pay for CC lease and maintenance, e.g road/PROW damage?
  • The Footpath article indicates that there is no direct Parish responsibility for PROWs. Therefore the BROW team clear/maintain overgrown PROWs & repair/replace furniture that are not on BPC owned/occupied land.
  • As far as we can ascertain the drove path and the path through the allotment is a PROW. It's stated that the BPC is unable to work out costs for this current repair, although £700+ has been spent. Is any public money cost accrued identified and recharged to those responsible for any work on PROWs, especially duties carried out on behalf of North Somerset/Private Landowners?
  • From NS Definitive Map, what specific Bleadon Parish PROWs are on/through BPC owned/occupied land? This would then indicate the ones that BPC are actually financially responsible for.
  • Any land subsequently shared or sublet by BPC and accessed by vehicles by a minority, and subsequently damaged, should surely be paid for by the occupiers/users of that land and not the village as a whole, as indicated in the Footpath article? Or are BPC saying that all allotment repairs are BPC responsibility and not allotment renters or others with access rights over the land? If so, surely the terms of lease needs urgently reviewing?
  • If the Footpath article states there is no BROW 'schedule of work', why does BPC APM report state (in the same BVN) there is one, which is correct? If there is one, why can't it be published with appropriate landowner etc responsibilities and costs identified and agreed BEFORE undertaking work?
  • As indicated in the Footpath article Trapnell as landowner, should have paid the majority cost. Only 25% is the HA contribution to a landowner's responsibility of authorised structures and definitely nothing from BPC!
  • Most importantly, does BPC insurance cover BROW volunteers and any third-party liability for any injury/damage arising from working on other peoples land? 

To summarise, the work of BROW volunteers is obviously welcomed by footpath users and no doubt especially by NS due to their lack of resource, but the responsibilities and any costs should be clearly identified before being incurred.


Residents want transparency in all matters that can affect Bleadon Parish financially, both now and in the future so that an informed public may be more willing to engage in the political decision making process.


Please can future articles be complete without contradictions, indicating all responsibilities to avoid confusion. Clarity is essential especially where responsibilities and budgets are held elsewhere, the toilet transfer and current planning applications also highlight this as a wider concern than simple footpath maintenance but the principles are the same.


If NS do not have the resources this needs to be addressed appropriately with higher levels of government and not lead to what is effectively a further 'stealth' tax on Town & Parish councils through growth of their precept and use of their reserves and volunteer labour rather than paid civil servants and their directly funded contractors.


You may also be unaware that many BVN readers are often concerned over articles with no easy 'right to reply' months away and all at a high cost to the PC public purse. Does the Parish Council 'Quality Assure' articles published that appear to be a response written on their behalf?


Please can you clarify these issues ASAP and clearly I would like the next BVN to publish the 'real' and complete story.


Kind regards,

Chris Butler email: website




Subject: RE: BPC - F&P Committee Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2014 20:56:00 +0100


Dear Chris

There is no need to supply me with a copy as I am due to provide you with a formal response which has been delayed due to pressure of work in my allotted hours and to some extent the research that was necessary to back up my anticipated response.


Bruce Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC Bleadon Parish Council Clerk to the Parish Rooftops 10 South Street Burnham-on-Sea Somerset TA8 1BS Tel: 07887802922 E-Mail: Web Site:


From: Bleadon BOB [] Sent: 05 August 2014 10:28

To: Bruce Poole Subject: RE: BPC - F&P Committee

Dear Bruce,

Thank you, they are now posted via dates at

I note that neither Open Spaces or Finance Committee Agendas specifically mention my email of 10th July regarding PROW maintenance and proper apportionment of costs for financial accounting, will it be raised and discussed under other matters?I can re-supply a copy if required?

Kind regards,

Chris Butler email: website




Subject: BPC - F&P Committee Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2014 12:38:19 +0100 FYI Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC Bleadon Parish Council Clerk to the Parish Rooftops 10 South Street Burnham-on-Sea Somerset TA8 1BS Tel: 07887802922 E-Mail: Web Site:


Dear Chris

I acknowledge the receipt of your e-mail and I will now bring it to the attention of the Parish Council for its information and subsequent consideration. When I am in receipt of all the information that you seek I will then respond accordingly.


Bruce Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC Bleadon Parish Council Clerk to the Parish Rooftops 10 South Street Burnham-on-Sea Somerset TA8 1BS Tel: 07887802922 E-Mail: Web Site:


From: Bleadon BOB [] Sent: 10 July 2014 23:09

To: Bruce Poole Cc: Bruce Poole; Clive Morris; Ian Findlay; ID Clarke; Keith Pyke; Miles Orme; Rob House; Steve Hartree

Subject: Recent Allotment Footpath Costs


Dear Bruce,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

You wrote 

  • "the drove going up to the allotments an access which is of course the responsibility of the Parish Council". 

I have no idea whether maintenance of the 'access drove' is the responsibility of BPC (hence my land ownership question) but from the definitive PROW map, that you gave us a copy of, it all appears to be a PROW i.e. AX6/10 and/or AX6/11.


This is also confirmed by the signage at both ends of the allotment stating it is a PROW.


Please see attached photo.(of gate with footpath sign)


The work I am referring to has been done on the PROW AX6/10 passing from Manor Grange through the allotment.


My understanding is if this is PROW maintenance then the majority cost should probably be to the highway authority (North Somerset) as it is all PROW surface maintenance.


Any additional work for the broader allotment access maintenance would I assume be dependent on the terms of the lease/contract/convenant between the land owner (Church Commissioner?) and tenants e.g. allotment users and any other private access users.


In either case how can this be, as you say, "of course the responsibility of the Parish Council"?


I am sure you would agree that there should be proper and transparent financial accountability for public funds.


Therefore costs should be allocated/recharged to the appropriate body responsible for this and all PROW maintenance work carried out by BROW Volunteer Group.


Please can you answer the following questions: 

  • Who is responsible for the various aspects of this work on 'access drove' and AX6/10/11?
  • Who will be recharged for this work?
  • What is BPC proposed BROW maintenance schedule? If it has cost £1,000 for this small part of one PROW how much will fall on the Parish Precept, Budget and Reserves for all 20 Bleadon PROWs? 

If you are unable to give me the answer to the above questions please can you refer them to the appropriate councillor(s) responsible e.g. Finance, Open Spaces, etc. 


If you still are unable to ascertain responsibilities please escalate to the Highway Authority who holds ultimate responsibility. I'm sure that they will be amenable as 'we' are doing their work for them and apparently paying for it.


From: "Bruce Poole" <> Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2014 05:24:01 +0100

To: 'Bleadon BOB'<> Cc: <>; 'Clive Morris'<>; Ian Findlay<>; Iris D Clarke<>; 'Keith'<>; 'miles orme'<>; 'Rob House'<>; Steve Hartree<>

Subject: RE: Recent Allotment Footpath Costs


Dear Chris

The expenditure that you are referring too is in fact the drove going up to the allotments an access which is of course the responsibility of the Parish Council. The work was scheduled last year but because of the prevailing inclement weather at that time the work was deferred.


Bruce Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC Bleadon Parish Council Clerk to the Parish Rooftops 10 South Street Burnham-on-Sea Somerset TA8 1BS Tel: 07887802922 E-Mail: Web Site:


From: Bleadon BOB [] Sent: 08 July 2014 22:11

To: Bruce Poole Cc: Clive Morris; Ian Findlay; ID Clarke; Keith Pyke; Miles Orme; Penny Skelley; Rob House; Steve Hartree

Subject: Recent Allotment Footpath Costs

Dear Bruce,

Further to my previous email correspondence on cost accounting for Footpath maintenance you previously replied : 

  • We were advised that from time to time North Somerset would offer to pay for some items and others and this is where the Parish Council agreed to be pragmatic and pay for any small remedial repairs.
  • An example of this was recently when the Parish Council paid for a small supply of scalpings which were picked up and delivered by one of the volunteers (to save delivery charges).
  • When Andy Eddy agreed to volunteer subsequent to his “retirement” as a Ranger the Parish Council agreed to pay any of his reasonable out of pocket expenses. We have to keep reminding him of this arrangement so that he is not out of pocket. 

I note from the June minutes & July Agenda that the PROW through the Allotments has incurred expense of circa £1000. It is my understanding from there is a clear split of maintenance responsibility between Highway Authority and Landowner/Occupiers for actual path surface, furniture and vegetation growth overhanging the path.


Therefore, can you tell me who then is financially responsible for this recent BROW maintenance work and why?


Also how much North Somerset and Landowner/Occupiers will be paying for what is their responsibility?


As you know I believe this information should be clearly identified for ALL the PROWs within Bleadon so that the burden does not fall on the Parish Precept.


Finally, my compliments to the good work of all volunteers on the BROW team who I understand have now been appropriately trained on equipment use. Does this now mean that they, and 3rd parties, are comprehensively covered by BPC insurers for any accidents or damage whilst working on Bleadon PROWs?


Also, I would still welcome a programme of planned PROW work by BROW so I can publicise it on, please can you supply one?


Kind regards,

Chris Butler email: website



There is obviously much more going back to previous months/years that 'ping pongs' back and forth month after month gettting responses/replies but without progress toward concise and clear answers and thus eventually causes impasse...........Ho Hum on to the next. 

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