Agenda item

Member Questions - About the matters which are within the powers and duties of the Committee

To answer any written members’ questions about the matters which are within the powers and duties of the Committee. The closing date/time for the receipt of questions is 10:00am on Monday 9 May 2022.  Please send questions to the Chief Executive marked for the attention of Joanne Bolton (email: joanne.bolton@gloucestershire.gov.uk).

Minutes:

14.1    Three questions had been received from Cllr Dr David Willingham.  A copy of the questions and answers had been circulated and uploaded to the Council’s website. 

 

The Committee noted the questions and answers.

 

14.2    Cllr Dr Willingham commented that the amount of work the officers had to undertake to bring DMMO applications forward for determination, whether under delegated authority or to the Committee, was not inconsiderable.  As a supplementary question, he asked whether, given the rate at which applications were being received by GCC, the rate at which they were being determined and the amount of applications that were currently undetermined, the Chair would be willing to write to the Cabinet Member responsible for Public Rights of Way to highlight the issue that more resources were needed for the team, to enable the applications to be dealt with more quickly.  He commented that from his point of view he represented an urban division, and ramblers had connected with him about issues in his area; however, this would to a greater extent affect the rural population given that Gloucestershire was predominately a rural county.  He commented that some people were waiting a considerable number of years for determination of their application, and therefore it was right to ask for more resources to be provided.  He asked whether the Chair could write to the Cabinet member on this issue and provide feedback on any response at a subsequent meeting.  

 

14.3    The Chair informed the Committee that he had not previously written to the Cabinet Member on an official basis, but that he had raised this issue with him verbally.  The Chair pointed out that it was only a small team that dealt with DMMOs and therefore it was unlikely that the backlog of undetermined DMMO applications could be cleared in the near future.  He also pointed out there were recruitment challenges, and that this was a national issue.   He confirmed that he would make contact with the Cabinet Member to raise the issue of resources.  He also suggested that it would be of value for the Cabinet member to be invited to observe a future meeting of the Committee.

 

14.4    Andrew Houldey, Asset Data Officer, reported that funding had been allocated for the provision of two additional fixed term posts – one Asset Data Officer, and one Asset Data Officer Technician.  He explained that there had been an increase in the number of DMMOs being received recently.  This was in response to the 2026 deadline to record historic footpaths and bridleways on the Definitive Map.  The 2026 deadline had now been informally abandoned, but it had raised interest and therefore DMMO applications were continuing to be received by GCC.

 

14.5    A member questioned whether the DMMO application before the Committee, could have been determined by officers, outside of the committee process, under delegated powers.  In response, Andrew Houldey, Asset Data Officer, explained that in other authorities DMMO applications were almost always dealt with by officers under delegated powers.  A GCC internal protocol for the determination of applications had been in place for a number of years.  Applications that were based solely on documentary evidence were determined by officers under delegated authority.  Applications that were based solely on user evidence would go forward to the Committee for determination.  Where the evidence was a mix of both user and documentary evidence those applications would also come before the Committee for determination, on the basis that it would be of value for the evidence to be presented by officers and debated by the Committee.

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