Buckinghamshire County Council has an annoying habit. When you submit a public-path problem online it may send you an email, after an improbably short period, to tell you that your problem has been ‘resolved’ (Oxford Concise English Dictionary: ‘clear up, settle’). The chances are that it hasn’t been resolved at all.
Last August I reported a missing waymark at the junction of Piddington and Wheeler End footpaths 3/1, 3/2 and 6/1 (grid reference SU 801 934) since it is not obvious where the paths run. I tracked my query on the website and discovered that the matter had been ‘resolved’.
When doing my Ramblers’ path-check of the parish again this year I noticed the waymark was still missing. I reported it on 6 August and received an email from Bucks CC on 8 August to say it had been resolved:
Dear Miss Ashbrook,
Reference report number 40045236.
Thank you for your enquiry. This has been fully assessed and resolved and this enquiry is now closed.
If you wish to raise a new report please do so using our Report It website. Please provide as much detail as possible to assist in resolving your report.
Transport for Buckinghamshire
Just in case it really had been resolved I checked it on 11 August, but there was nothing there.
Last year I reported a stile on FP 25 at SU 811 199. It is not to British Standard 5709. The tracking report says:
Thank you for your report of ROW style (sic) issue at PIDDINGTON AND WHEELER END FOOTPATH 25, PIDDINGTON AND WHEELER END which is now resolved.
Here is the problem at the time I reported it last year.
And here it is a year later, having been ‘resolved’. Can you spot the difference?
No signpost—despite duty
There are other reports which have been concluded with no action and no explanation. And some with very bizarre explanations. Last year I reported a missing signpost at the junction of footpath 16 and Piddington Lane at the path’s northern end (SU 811 939). I heard no more so I tracked this on the website and was dismayed to read:
We have reviewed/inspected a ROW sign issue at PIDDINGTON AND WHEELER END FOOTPATH 16, PIDDINGTON AND WHEELER END and at present this does not meet our criteria to be fixed. However, we will continue to monitor it during our routine inspections to assess any deterioration.
I don’t know what it means by ‘deteroriation’: there isn’t a signpost to deteriorate—but the website didn’t give ‘missing signpost’ as an option.
And of course the response is rubbish. The county council has a legal duty, under section 27 of the Countryside Act 1968, to erect a signpost where a footpath, bridleway, restricted byway or byway leaves a metalled road, unless the parish council considers it unnecessary. However, the council has not said that the parish council has asked for it not to be installed. In fact it is necessary because people are tempted to walk up the narrow lane which runs parallel to the path, rather than walk inside the hedge which looks private. I have reported it again. (Since I visited last year the steps have been put in, so that’s progress.)
I know Bucks CC rights-of-way staff are hard-pressed and do their utmost to give a good service, but I think the reporting system needs an overhaul and the language needs changing.