Signs needs to be in prominent positions and easy to read.
Any action freeholders take is designed to minimize any disruption to the public, the freehold movement has received great support from the public,the great majority are freeholders or tenants there self’s. Locke down is an aid to protecting freehold property rights. We are just wanting to protect these hard earned rights.
s32 of the Highway Act 1980 gives powers only to courts or tribunals to decide whether a way has or has not been dedicated to the public. County Councils have not been given the powers by any Statute or Instrument, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to judge whether a way has been dedicated to the public or not.
How to fight a right of way claim of presumed dedication.
- Ask the county council what evidence they have for the claim. If they rely on witness forms ask for them to be copied to you.
- Look in the electorate register if those people were actually living in the area for the relevant period.
- There is no privacy in a witness, so you will not do anything wrong in approaching those people who signed the witness forms in order to arrive to the truth, preferably before the county council does.
- In law you have no right to be consulted before the county council makes a modification order. If you give your evidence to the county council in a bid to stop them making the order, chances are that they will use it against you, or they will misrepresent it to committee, therefore tread carefully.
- Make sure you can contact the previous owner/s and any one else with knowledge of the land in question – old farm workers to gather evidence to counteract the claim.
- You need to establish that the previous owner during the relevant period never had intention to dedicate. Erection of ‘private’ notices, baring the way and so on or having given permission for people to use a way.
- Bear in mind that the required user must be the use by the public at large. Neighbours or even parishioners do not constitute the general public and therefore their use should be discounted.
- look for historic evidence that shows that the claimed land was never a public right of way.
- Ask the county council to produce the statement that should accompany the definitive map or if they never prepared it the parish card. See if the evidence relating to the existence of the highway that joins the claimed path throws light on the matter in hand
- Should the council’s committee decide to make an order there is a window of opportunity to challenge that decision by way of judicial review before county council makes an order ( see the case of Lazard), but if the council has made the order you have to wait to challenge it until it has been confirmed ( see Huntington case).
- Should the county council decide to make a modification order it has to notify the owner.
- You can then lodge objections to the order as made.
- The jurisdiction then passes on to the Secretary of State for the Environment who has the discretion to either hear representations and objections from the objector or to hold a local inquiry.
- If the Secretary of State or who for him decides to confirm the order, the order can be challenged in the High Court only on procedural errors and points of law. The High Court has no jurisdiction to judge on the merits of the case.
Advice from the Rights of way review committee for England and Wales…
It may be useful to place notices on your farm tracks to make clear your position. For instance” [You are welcome to use] this way [but it] is not a public right of way. Permission may be withdrawn at any time.
Day time walking use allowed only.