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As a Councillor I have an expertise in PROW.  After a lengthy debate with my District Council, I eventually came to an agreement that my Parish Council could carry out a wide range of waymarking activities under CA 1968 S27.  Such activities have always been seen as win win as they help to inform users of the legal line of paths and prevent trespass.  During the debate it was pointed out that consultation was required with the landowners and in some cases permission obtained. Now I will be honest and say in some cases as a Council we don’t have a clue who owns each bit of land  so I said  to the DC could you share your list with us given that this arrangement was with their consent i.e we are effectively their agent .  The Council officer with somewhat of a glint in their eye said “ sorry cant do that GDPR forbids it”.   Are they right ?
by (5.0k points)
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3 Answers

0 votes
I can't quote the legal position but we've had a similar situation locally when our footpaths officer asked the local authority about the owner of land where a stile was in a poor state (the PFO was offering to help with the repair) and was told he couldn't be told who the landowner was on the grounds of GDPR.
by (20.2k points)
0 votes
CA S27 gives you the power to erect signs if given authority by the DC.

It also places an obligation on the DC to consult with landowners before erecting signs.

It's not clear whether its you or the DC that needs to consult with the landowners. I would say it's the DC. Either way, if they are not playing ball and giving you the details, you will have to badger them to do the consulting.

If the obligation is upon you to do the consulting then the DC could rely upon Public Task as the legal basis for proving the information to you.
by (5.0k points)
On a seperate note i once complained to the DC (as a member of the public) about a PROW that the landowner had allowed crops to obstruct. They provided the landowners details in this case (i didn't even ask for it). Whether this was a mistake on the councils part or not who knows.
Looking back at this i can see that they provided a FOI response to my request for a copy of the notice served on the landowner. The only thing that they redacted was the name of the landowner, but the actual address was fully shown. As this came from the FOI department and they did do some redactions i have to presume they knew what they were doing and that this did not breach GDPR.

Just checked on the Land Registry website i can see that i can find the landowners address for any field (but again not the name of the owner). So presumably land owners addresses is considered as being in the pubic domain and therefore not personal data covered by GDPR.

Maybe you could just find the owners from the LR website and pop round to speak them. Would probably be a lot easier and quicker than arguing with the council.
0 votes

It's a bold claim to have expertise in PRoW and to quote a reference which the latter part of the post seems to indicate has either not been read or not properly understood...

Without having any claim of "expertise" (other than having walked them all and having a good knowledge of the parish) I could probably identify 90% or more of the land owners for all designated parish paths.

Anyway, s27(1) clearly dictates that the HA has the power, after consultation, to erect and maintain signs.  It does not make any reference to a delegation of the consultation requirement.

s27(5) clearly states that, with the consent of the HA, any other person may erect and maintain signs.

Those 2 parts therefore make perfectly clear what needs to happen - make a list or marked map of the intended location of signs, send it to the HA for their consultation, await their confirmation that landowner consultation has been completed and that any necessary consents obtained, put your signs up.

Let the council officer have their glint in the eye, just give them the list of where you want to put your signs and tell them to crack on and let you know when the consultation is complete.  That might just take the shine off it for them....  

by (22.2k points)
I will take no criticism from you RAC as to what I have achieved in terms of delivering change in PROW standards via campaigns to which I have contributed  (namely Herrick V Kidner). However , in this case I have achieved a way of putting right  the scandal found in many areas relating to the failure of HAs in their duty to erect signposts where PROWs meet metalled roads (CA 1968 s27)  see here https://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2018/01/03/campaigners-call-on-councils-to-fulfil-duty-to-signpost-secret-paths.   The issue I have was that I had negotiated the agreement I wanted but it came with the caveat of writing to all landowners, a thing which is not that easy in my Parish . I now understand from reading the legislation re consultation (as I am always prepared to learn) that responsibility for consultation was not that clear cut.  Working my way through that fog can be time consuming  and frustrating especially when I had a group of volunteers ready to help .  Whatever transpires will help those similarly affected in the future, PS if I was to follow your recommended action AR it would take 5 years.  We want to do the whole Parish 400 waymarker discs and 70 signposts ourselves in one go during 2023
Mheh, whether you wish to interpret or accept criticism is neither here nor there.

You have presented yourself as an "expert" but the content of your post rather dispels that self assertion since the detail in the reference you presented is pretty basic and easily interpreted as the HA bearing the responsibility for landowner consultation and then having the ability to delegate the function of installing signage to another entity if they so choose.  Not a great deal of expertise required to unpick that Gordian knot.

What was your contribution to Herrick V Kidner?

As to putting right a scandal - it appears, from what you have written - although I'd be delighted to be corrected - that all you have actually done is take upon your (presumably parish?) council tax precept payers an additional financial burden which they are already shouldering within LA council tax and which should be borne by the HA?
Would that be an accurate summation??

Please don't feel any compulsion to reply
How would it take 5 years to check the details on LR website. Surely there can't be that many landowners in one parish. At most 1 day to locate the addresses of all the landowners. Then another day or two to go knocking on doors to tell them your plans. Then another day to formally write the letters to them to satisfy the council.

Your 5 years has suddenly become a week. Now, if you ask the BC instead, then yes it could well be 5 years (if you are lucky).
For AR, it would be nugatory effort and wasted time for the OP to write to (consult) the land owners - even if he did ascertain their addresses - since it is the HA NOT the PC (if that is where he sits) which, according to s27(1) must consult.  I suppose you 'could' argue that since the form of the 'consultation' is not specified it 'could' be delegated or conducted on behalf of the HA but that leaves the question why have a higher tier authority if all of their functions (but none of their funding) are delegated...
AR I reckon we have about 30 different landowners in our Parish. Now if I were to write to the HA and ask them to send a letter to say the 10 I know I can pretty much guarantee that will go into the yes we will deal with that when we can pile but its not a priority.   The same would apply if I asked them to firstly identify the landowner. Most PROW sections are under resourced and simply cant cope with such "minor issues". Anyhow I have put the whole issue in our HAs court and I will see what happens. Meanwhile the job does not get done. Incidentally don't all Land Registry searches have to be paid for or am I looking looking on the wrong site ?
As I say RAG I will take no lecturing from you.  I joined this forum to share queries about PC issues with like minded people.  I find it very useful and most contributors are pleasant and respectful .  I appreciate that you are very forceful and assertive  personality who takes no cxxp but that does not give you the right to talk down to people.  In this case my Parish has elected to fund some PROW expenses due to be paid by the HA.  We do this as we know whilst they may have duties that with some there is no way of enforcing them .  That is our choice. As regards this particular issue (of the need for consulting re waymarking)  I can almost guarantee that it is not done in most areas or with most volunteer groups. Still we move on.
It's not a lecture, it is a challenge to your self certified expert status which has resulted in victim signalling.

You posted a relatively simple scenario which has resulted in a response you don't like so you adopted a passive aggressive stance (I'll take no lecture from you) and now seek to whine about the situation.

The only thing worse than a whiny crybaby is a hypocritical whiny crybaby.
Whatever. I see no need to respond to your challenge. All I know is that my most recent foray  in matters PROW has established methods whereby PCs can legally  erect metalled road signposts at a third of the normal price . I have also established an acceptable method of waymarking metal kissing gates an ever increasingly used form of furniture.  The issue of consultation/permission  is I agree intriguing and I have asked IPROW for an opinion . Meanwhile an eminent expert has commented "It is the Council that has to consult, but if you are acting as their agent then they can shuffle that off on to the PC.
The fact that landownership information may be (not all land is registered and that particularly applies to a lot of farmland) available publicly does not affect the fact that GDPR applies and even if you/the PC are their agent the Council can still refuse to give you the information under GDPR"
You have to pay if you wish to download the deeds (£3 i think). But you can search the address of the landowner for free (although it's not very intuitive the way the site works).
Dear All This debate has moved on to an interesting conclusion.  The question this time is where any signpost indicating that  a PROW leaves a metalled road should be located .  Traditionally because its their duty HAs have mainly located signs on the Highway because they have control of what goes on there,  We have come along and said look we want to do a  better job and are prepared to fund it but in order avoid any unnecessary complications we will put our signposts just off the highway and on the path itself .  There is now a debate around this and what materials we can use and things are getting a bit tetchy . Now in terms of location I have read the legislation (CA 1968 s27) and para 1 gives the HA powers to erect signposts "along the path" ie physically on the PROW.  Para 2 then mandates the HA to use this power to fulfil its duty to erect signposts where every path leaves a metalled road .  Therefore I cannot see how the HA can interpret this as reading signpost must be located on the highway . In deed I believe the literal interpretation is that they must be on the path.  Would interested in others views as i need to be confident of my view.

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