The procedure for removing an obstruction - locked gates, barbed wire, derelict machinery, fallen trees etc etc etc is as follows:
Send a report of the obstruction to your local authority (Worcestershire) PRoW Department, and ask them for a timescale when action will be taken. KEEP COPIES! (Could send by Recorded Delivery)
The report should contain the following information:
1. Your full name and contact details.
2. Date the problem discovered.
3. How long it has been a problem (if ongoing).
4. Full details of path: Type of path. Number of path.
5. In which parish is the path?
6. Grid references of start and end of path, and of position of obstruction.
7. Name of property on which path is situated (if known eg name of farm, wood, estate, park). (These path details should be checked on the definitive map if you have the slightest doubt about anything; in any case you will need to see the definitive map in order to quote the parish name and path number). The Definitive Map is held by your local County Council and should be available via the council's website.
8. Nature of the problem and comments on the relevance of the problem eg "locked gate; totally prevents access to remainder of path and connections to bridleway X and UCCR Y". or "path impassible due to fallen tree at grid reference 123456". or "chain harrows placed across path prevent any use of the path beyond GR 123456. These harrows are rusty and have abundant vegetation growing between the links, indicating that they have been in this position for some time"
9. A sketch map of where the problem is, and how it affects use of the path, may be useful.
10, DON'T FORGET to sign it and date it!
11. DON'T get emotional when writing it - stick to the facts. eg if there is a pool of slurry, don't write "eeeww it is disgusting and it stinks", but state that you are concerned about environmental pollution, hygiene and disease transmission ...
12. If nothing has happened after a month, contact the PRoW Department again and inform them that if no action is taken, then you may have to consider making a "Section 63" request. Section 63 of the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act is an extremely powerful tool, and starts a process which, if not acted on, will result in a magistrates order requiring the Local Authority to take action to get the obstruction removed.
This process requires a series of specific Magistrates Court Process forms to be used. Generally, once Form 1 is received by the Local Authority, then they will take action and the problem will be sorted. HOWEVER there are some "renegade" local authorities who will try to get cost awards against users. For the majority of local authorities this is a very slim to zero risk, but you MUST make absolutely sure of your facts before sending Form 1 and activating Section 63. The mere mention of a section 63 will often galvanise the more craven, or more cooperative, LA's into action.
Obstructions commonly dealt with under section 63 are some of the following:
missing sign or waymark/incorrectly-sited sign or waymark/misleading sign or waymark/dangerous surface/surface out of repair/uncut crop with no indication of path/ploughed path/ploughed or cultivated path not reinstated/locked, unusable or dangerous gate/bull of a dairy breed over 10 months old/aggressive dog/missing or unsafe bridge/poor drainage impeding passage/fallen trees or branches/vegetation overgrowth esp nettles, brambles, gorse/dangerous fencing eg barb, electric/buildings and constructions/machinery on path/rocks on path/presence of slurry on path.
There is a quick and easy internet based way to roport such problems which can be accessed as follows:
Click onto this website to report problems using the Report a Defect prompt, or read more information