I have reported an obstruction to the council, but they are saying they can’t do anything about it due to lack of money/resources. What can I do now?

We know that highway authorities are struggling to take the necessary action required when it comes to maintaining footpaths and removing obstructions.

However, they still have a statutory duty to assert and protect the rights of the public on rights of way under section 130 of the Highways Act 1980.

When corresponding with the council we would suggest pointing out that the House of Lords has declined to accept shortage of money as an adequate excuse for not carrying out a statutory duty in R v East Sussex County Council ex parte Tandy (1998).

There are a few ways we can suggest putting some pressure on the council which you may find useful:


  • Asking for action to be taken by writing to the council committee chairman or cabinet member who is responsible for rights of way. This information can be gathered from the authority’s website.
  • Writing to a councillor and asking them to press for action (either the councillor who represents the ward you live in or the one in which the path lies).
  • Writing to the local paper expressing your concern at the authority’s inaction. You could also write press releases to all your local papers with the same message.
  • Lodge a complaint using the authority’s complaints procedure (this should be easy to find on their website)
  • Lodge a complaint with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman stating that the highway authority has failed to carry out its statutory duty.


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