TRF welcomes victory in Dorset map scales case, but questions cost

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Published on 24 March 2015 by Gill

Dorset County Council will have to review the status of five rights of way in the county after a Supreme Court victory for the Trail Riders Fellowship. The TRF is now questioning why the council chose to fight the case in the first place.

It is widely accepted that Bailey Drove in Batcombe, Doles Hill Plantation, in Cheselbourne, Crabb’s Barn Lane in Beaminster and a route between Tarrant Gunville and Chettle and another between Meerhay and Beaminster Down, should be Byways Open to All Traffic throughout their length.

Dorset County Council refused applications for these errors on its Definitive Map to be corrected in 2010 – not on the grounds that the corrections themselves were invalid, but because the maps supporting the applications were not Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale, but copies of Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps sourced electronically and enlarged to 1:25,000 scale by the applicant.

After earlier hearings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, Dorset County Council’s argument was rejected by the Supreme Court on 18 March, 2015, and the council will now have to process the applications. The Trail Riders Fellowship understands that Dorset County Council faces a substantial legal bill.

A spokesman for the TRF said: “On its website, Dorset County Council says that ‘it is in the public interest that the Definitive Map and Statement are correct and up to date.’
“We are puzzled therefore as to why it has taken five years and three expensive court cases to force Dorset County Council to start to process these corrections.
“Questions need to be asked as to why cash-strapped Dorset County Council was prepared to spend large sums of money preventing members of the public from correcting obvious mistakes and inconsistencies on its Definitive Map.

 “Were they acting on the behest of wealthy landowning interests, were their strings being pulled by Westminster politicians, or was there some other reason?”

BMF's Graeme Hay commented: "The BMF supports the legitimate use of public highways, be they surface or not and is delighted to have the TRF as a member.  This work to gain the acceptance of the by way status of these four routes in Dorset has been conducted at considerable financial risk to the TRF and with great determination.  Users of these lanes will celebrate this but probably wonder why the council were willing to spend so much money challenging the TRF claim solely on the basis that it used the “Wrong type of map” in its detail.  Good use of public money?  How many potholes would that have filled, I wonder.  Anyway congratulations to the excellent TRF in their customary detailed research and in particular in maintaining a steely resolve."

 A summary of the judgment can be downloaded here:

 https://www.supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2013_0153_PressSummary.pdf

 And the judgment in full is here:

Terminology
Legal definition of Byway Open to All Traffic: “A Highway over which the public have right of way for vehicular and all other kinds of traffic but which is used mainly for the purpose for which footpaths and bridleways are used.”

Unlike a footpath or bridleway, it is illegal for a landowner to plough up a Byway Open to All Traffic, or put up stiles and similar obstructions which can impact on all classes of user, particularly those with mobility difficulties.

About the Trail Riders Fellowship
The Trail Riders Fellowship was founded in 1970 to preserve and promote legal motorcycling on unsurfaced vehicular rights of way in England and Wales.
Its members operate a code of conduct, you can find it here
It should be noted that trail riding is not ‘off-roading’. The routes used by trail riders have vehicular status, although they may lack a coating of tarmac