Council defends cuts to rights of way budget
A REPORT by The Ramblers says council cuts to rights of way funding in England is affecting access to the great outdoors.
The report says cuts to path networks in the South West will impact on tourism, the economy and people's physical and mental health.
Gloucestershire County Council is on The Ramblers' list of "councils of concern" .
The report says it has slashed rights of way funding by one third in the past three years.
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Councillor Will Windsor-Clive, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for communities, said: "We've had to find £114 million in savings from our budget of £400 million.
"We choose to protect services like adult care that help some of the most vulnerable people in Gloucestershire, which means we have had to make savings in other areas.
"Rights of way is important – but protecting vulnerable people is always going to be more important than repairing stiles and I'm not going to apologise for that."
Nicky Philpott, director of campaigns and policy at The Ramblers said: "Statistics show the disproportionate effect of council cuts on rights of way and the teams which look after them.
"In many cases the resources aren't even there to coordinate and utilise our volunteers who are ready and willing to help councils keep paths clear.
"It is a small cost compared to the huge benefits they can bring to tourism, the economy and the nation's health and happiness and it is vital that councils properly invest in them."